How spy unit nailed Richard Mdluli ‘foes’

2014-08-10 15:00

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Rogue agents in the State Security Agency (SSA) were instrumental in hounding prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach out of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

According to a recording in the possession of City Press, members of the Special Operations Unit (SOU) concocted a story that Breytenbach was a former agent of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

They then leaked the information to the media to discredit her. The information was repeated by her NPA bosses when motivating why she should be charged with corruption.

Breytenbach, who at the time was insisting on prosecuting suspended crime intelligence boss Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli for fraud and corruption, left the NPA in May after she was elected as a DA MP.

The SOU agents’ disinformation campaign alleged that Breytenbach framed Mdluli for fraud because the crime intelligence boss had “evidence” of her Mossad activities and was on the verge of busting the prosecutor.

Mdluli has been on suspension for more than two years after a Hawks investigation found he and his colleagues had looted the unit’s secret fund. (See page 2)

This information is contained in recorded conversations of a senior “contract agent” of the SOU. The recording of SOU agent George Darmanovich (54), trying to recruit an informant for the unit, is genuine and has been legally obtained by this newspaper.

“They framed him [Mdluli]. They made him out to be corrupt,” says Darmanovich.

The Serbian immigrant is a “contract agent” for the counterintelligence unit at the SOU, gets a monthly salary, production bonuses and operational money. He claims to report directly to SSA deputy director-general Thulani Dlomo.

City Press journalists have also had several dealings with Darmanovich (whose real name is Gorgija Gorg). He has at least seven cellphones and received 11 gun licences in 2011 on the strength of his SOU work.

Darmanovich likes to flaunt a photograph of himself with President Jacob Zuma on his cellphone and claims to meet the president regularly. It has not been established if the photograph is genuine.

In the recorded conversation, Darmanovich said of Breytenbach: “You see, we have her for treason. She has taken money from foreign intelligence. Richard Mdluli was on to all these people and they then made him out to be corrupt. So they framed him.”

In the smear campaign, Darmanovich leaked dockets to the media purporting to prove that Breytenbach was “on the take” and so had refused to prosecute high-profile fraudsters.

Among the documents that Darmanovich leaked were the cases of Ponzi mastermind Barry Tannenbaum, as well as fraudsters and colluders in the construction sector.

In the recording, Darmanovich claims he meets Mdluli from time to time and there is a plan to give the general back his position.

In the process, some members of the SOU have conspired to also discredit other Mdluli “enemies” like Hawks’ head Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat and former crime intelligence acting head Major General Mark Hankel.

The two earned Mdluli’s ire when they refused to back down on murder, kidnapping, assault, fraud and corruption cases against him.

Darmanovich leaked an entire police docket (it would have been illegal for him to have it in his possession) about the alleged complicity of Dramat in perlemoen poaching. The claim was investigated and Dramat was cleared.

Hankel, who acted briefly in Mdluli’s position after the latter’s suspension, drew up a report for the inspector general of intelligence on the looting allegations against the crime intelligence boss and other crime intelligence officers.

Darmanovich leaked an affidavit that shows how Hankel and other police investigators were involved in setting up the Boeremag and also secretly listened to conversations between them and their lawyers.

When Darmanovich referred to Hankel, he said he and a crime intelligence brigadier were responsible for “80% of crime in this country”. Darmanovich claimed he was close to former National Intelligence Agency head Gibson Njenje, who he claims has a plan to return as head of the SSA.

In the recording where Darmanovich tried to recruit an informant, he introduced himself as Boris Kay. With him was a man he introduced as “Barney from the NPA”.

Darmonovich promised the informant a Section 252A of the Criminal Procedures Act granting him indemnity from prosecution.

“You can then do anything. God forbid, but you can then commit a murder, but then you are covered,” Darmanovich told the informant.

Darmanovich said this week he was “shocked” about the allegations against him, but would comment properly in due course.

The SSA responds

City Press sent detailed questions about rogue agents and their projects in the SOU to the SSA.

Spokesperson Brian Dube said on Friday night that in terms of its policy, the agency do not discuss operational matters in the public domain.

He said as far as allegations of wrongdoing are concerned, “our laws and regulations provide for same to be dealt with accordingly”.

Sars  says

The SA Revenue Service is aware of the matters that City Press has uncovered during its investigation and is liaising closely with the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the State Security Agency (SSA) “at an appropriate level”.

So said Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay this week when we approached him with the findings of our investigation.

Lackay said that Sars group executive Johan van Loggenberg was also co-operating with all these agencies in his personal capacity.

Lackay confirmed that there are many instances where certain individuals have attempted to discredit Sars and its employees to derail investigations.

He said there are people who have a vested interest in creating confusion among state institutions and Sars is in “no doubt” that they are behind these allegations.

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