Spies and lies: As a love affair ends

2014-08-10 15:00

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Breaking up is never easy – but the end of the relationship between a top SA Revenue Service (Sars) investigator and a Pretoria lawyer was particularly bitter.

Johan van Loggenberg is Sars’ group executive for enforcement investigations, pursuing illicit tobacco smugglers; alleged mobsters like Glenn Agliotti, Radovan Krejcir and Lolly Jackson; and white-collar crooks like Dave King, Billy Rautenbach and Barry Tannenbaum.

Belinda Walter is a lawyer from Pretoria. She has also, she confessed to Van Loggenberg and his bosses at Sars, worked as a spy for the Special Operations Unit, a shadowy set-up within the State Security Agency (SSA).

They began dating October last year and split up in May.

Vicious allegations

Last month, Walter submitted a complaint to Van Loggenberg’s Sars bosses in which she called him mentally ill, unstable, corrupt, a pathological liar and a sociopath “likened to a paedophile”.

In her complaint to Sars, which City Press has seen, Walter admits she has been a state agent since October 2010, that she “wore a recording device for the state” when she met Van Loggenberg and she was the one who “playfully suggested a date” last October.

Walter appeared before a Sars panel recently. She was questioned, asked to make an affidavit and to provide it with evidence to start a formal disciplinary investigation against Van Loggenberg.

She did none of this and her lawyer informed Sars last week that she had withdrawn her complaint “without prejudice”.

Walter has not responded to numerous emails, phone calls or text messages seeking her comment.

Van Loggenberg said: “In hindsight, even the fool is wise. I cannot say whether she infiltrated me deliberately or not. But I fell in love with her and tried to deal with our problems in order to save the relationship in the best way that I could.

“I consider it a private matter and I don’t want to talk about it further. I have made all the data in my possession available to the relevant authorities. All her allegations are false, baseless and a very clear attempt to discredit me.”

A conflict of interest

Soon after Van Loggenberg and Walter went on their first date last October and a serious relationship blossomed, he discovered she was the lawyer for alleged tobacco smugglers Sars was trying to nab.

So he told his bosses about their relationship and asked her to voluntarily submit to both a tax audit and an audit of her practice by the Law Society of SA. He asked her to ditch these clients, which she did.

Walter later confessed to Van Loggenberg she was an agent for the Special Operations Unit of the SSA. He asked her to resign from this position as well, and she claimed she had done so.

But it later emerged that Walter had retained her relationship with the SSA and her contact with rogue Special Operations Unit agents.

Smoke and mirrors

During their relationship, Van Loggenberg also asked Walter to resign from her chairpersonship of the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association, an organisation that unites smaller cigarette manufacturers against industry giants like British American Tobacco (BAT).

Walter alleges in her Sars complaint that the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association was set up by the SSA, apparently to get direct access to certain tobacco role players.

Van Loggenberg also discovered that while Walter was representing smaller manufacturers, she was also on BAT’s payroll – apparently on behalf of the Special Operations Unit. City Press is in possession of documents that show Walter received R450?000 from BAT last year. The money was paid into a cash passport card in London and never declared to Sars.

Walter confessed in a text message to Van Loggenberg: “I feel so disgusted and disappointed in myself. I want to sleep so all these emotions of extreme guilt, remorse, regret and sadness don’t consume me.”

By May this year, their romance was on the rocks –

but not before Walter gave three old cellphones to Van Loggenberg and asked him to help her retrieve old text messages and put them on a flash drive. He did so.

Walter said in a text message to Van Loggenberg on May 15: “I made phenomenal sacrifices for you, I was committed to you. I believed your speeches on your honour, your integrity. I am sad you are not that person.”

She also sent him a poem: “I miss the way you held my hand / It felt better than a billion rand / I miss you as my ears and eyes / Sharing secrets, just like spies.”

The bitter end

Soon afterwards, the tone of their messages turned nasty. Walter warned Van Loggenberg on May 27: “Rest assured every email, WhatsApp and exchanges where you impart information on other taxpayers is safely stored.”

Van Loggenberg: “Leave me alone now, please.”

Walter: “I wouldn’t touch you if my life depended on it. So f**k off, f**knut!”

After the two had broken up, Van Loggenberg was approached and warned – ironically by some of the alleged tobacco smugglers he was investigating – that Walter had infiltrated him on behalf of the Special Operations Unit.

“Belinda told me she was going to infiltrate you,” reads a text message from one.

In June, Walter sent a message to an alleged cigarette smuggler: “F**knut’s day of reckoning has come.”

Once Walter had submitted her complaint to Sars, Van Loggenberg started his own investigation into Walter’s possible vendetta against him.

He still had a copy of the hundreds of text messages he had retrieved from Walter’s old cellphones. He scrutinised them – and a cloak-and-dagger world of alleged deceit and criminality unfolded before his eyes.

The Special Operations Unit

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