Intelligence watchdog to investigate spies, journalists as part of SARS 'rogue unit' probe

2019-10-04 06:00
Arthur Fraser.

Arthur Fraser. (Jaco Marais/Netwerk24)

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Operatives of the State Security Agency (SSA), the Public Protector, two former Sunday Times journalists, agents of multi-national tobacco company British American Tobacco, former SARS officials and crime intelligence cops are being investigated by the inspector-general of intelligence (IGI) for their role in the SARS "rogue unit" debacle.

In a letter to the attorney of former SARS enforcement executive Johann van Loggerenberg contained in court papers, Setlhomamaru Dintwe (the IGI) confirmed his office had initiated preliminary investigations into 34 complaints first lodged by Van Loggerenberg in 2014.

The complaints all relate to a 2014 investigation by the IGI into the role of the SSA and its Special Operations Unit in a campaign to discredit and decapitate SARS and to hobble it in the execution of its mandate.

The IGI also confirmed to Van Loggerenberg that it has lost all records of two meetings it held with him where he presented complaints, evidence and a list of names of people SARS believed were behind a series of attacks on the institution.

And Van Loggerenberg has also demanded that Advocate Jay Govender, a senior official in the office of the IGI, be recused from future investigations related to SARS because of her role in the 2014 probe.

This and other letters are attached to an explosive affidavit submitted by Van Loggerenberg in the High Court in Pretoria in relation to an application brought by State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo. She wants the IGI report from 2014, which made adverse findings against SARS, Van Loggerenberg, former deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay and former SARS commissioner Pravin Gordhan, to remain under wraps and classified.

The EFF this week published the report on its website. It makes scathing findings about SARS, finds its investigations unit was illegal and recommends that criminal charges against Gordhan, Pillay and Van Loggernberg be investigated.

In a letter to Dintwe, dated July 10, 2019, Van Loggerenberg's attorneys formally requested the IGI to investigate 26 individuals in addition to his original complaints from 2014, which were never investigated. These persons include:

Arthur Fraser, former director-general of the SSA;

Thulani Dhlomo, former head of the SSA's Special Operations Unit;

Advocate Jay Govender, spokesperson of and assistant to the IGI;

Tom Moyane, former SARS commissioner;

Gene Ravele, a former senior SARS executive;

Piet Rampedi and Mzilikazi wa Afrika, both former Sunday Times journalists;

Martin Welz, editor of Noseweek magazine;

Col Herbie Heap, a police officer now attached to the Zondo commission of inquiry;

British American Tobacco (BAT); and

In a response to Van Loggerenberg's letter, Dintwe on July 23, 2019, replied: "Kindly be advised that we are currently conducting a preliminary investigation into the matters set out in the said letter, with specific reference to the complaint lodged on behalf of Mr. Van Loggerenberg."

This follows a series of exchanges between the IGI and Van Loggerenberg's attorneys in which the former SARS executive requests access to transcripts and recordings of two interviews he did with the IGI in 2014 as part of its investigation.

According to Van Loggerenberg he lodged complaints into 34 matters concerning an alleged assault on SARS with the IGI in 2014. Those complaints were never investigated and evidence and information provided by him and SARS to the IGI were also never acted upon, investigated or considered in the 2014 probe.

In the letters the IGI disputes that Van Loggerenberg laid 34 complaints and argues it merely amounted to 34 "themes" he wanted the IGI to look at. The IGI also confirmed to Van Loggerenberg that despite "a thorough and diligent search" for transcripts and recordings of the 2014 meeting between the IGI and Van Loggerenberg it cannot be found.

History of conspiracy

In August 2014 Van Loggerenberg implicated numerous members of the South African intelligence community in alleged unlawful, illegal, unethical and unconstitutional conduct. Some of the allegations he raised for the IGI to look into involved active efforts to destabilise SARS by the same individuals.

This includes Van Loggerenberg's one-time girlfriend Belinda Walter, who turned out was an SSA agent while also spying on smaller tobacco manufacturers on behalf of BAT, while at the same time acting as an attorney for the same tobacco companies she was paid to spy on.

It also includes Carnilinx, a tobacco manufacturer owned by long-time Malema benefactor Adriano Mazzotti.

Van Loggerenberg's attorneys confirmed to News24 that the IGI has not yet responded to his demand that Govender be recused from the investigation.

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