Rogue attack aimed at PG

2016-09-18 06:10

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

ROGUE The inside story of Sars’s elite crime-busting unit by Johann van Loggerenberg with Adrian Lackay

Jonathan Ball Publishers

312 pages


What none of us had realised initially, but would start to understand as things unfolded over time, was that the campaign against us was apparently also aimed at Pravin Gordhan, or PG, as some liked to call him.

After the 2014 general election, Gordhan was replaced by [Nhlanhla] Nene as finance minister and appointed as minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.

With hindsight, the first indications that PG was also being targeted became evident in media reports from about November 2014.

Whereas the Sunday Times articles had initially published photos only of me, and later of Ivan Pillay, former deputy commissioner of Sars, and group executive Peter Richer, from this point onwards they also started including photos of Gordhan and, in some instances, Trevor Manuel.

These articles about the “rogue unit” seldom referred to them directly, except to portray them as part of the hierarchy of the management structure at Sars or the Treasury.

The first direct allegation against Gordhan, however, came on February 2 2015 – the month I resigned – during an interview with Sars spokesperson Luther Lebelo by 702 Radio talk show host John Robbie. Pretoria-based attorney Belinda Walter [with whom Van Loggerenberg was in a short relationship] called the station and went live on air.

She alleged that the unit “was a very small element within Sars and it was hidden within Sars; they didn’t operate within Sars offices and 90% of Sars employees weren’t aware of it … I cannot speak about Trevor Manuel; in documents I have seen Pravin Gordhan was definitely aware of it.”

To this, Robbie responded by asking her, “And this unit was definitely illegal? And he would have known it was illegal?”

“Yes,” she answered.

Precisely what documents she had seen, who had shown her them, and why she sought to implicate Gordhan and mention Manuel in relation to the unit are open to speculation.

In May 2015, Gordhan deemed it necessary to issue a media release “to set the record straight” because, the statement said, “some have seen it necessary to cast unwarranted aspersions on my integrity and record of public service.

This is unacceptable and must not go unchallenged. At the outset let me state that I have never approved, as commissioner of Sars, of any illegal activities.

“The establishment of an additional unit within the enforcement division was entirely legal.

Any suggestion to the contrary is rejected emphatically. It is, in fact, during my stint at Sars that a whole range of institutional checks and balances were set up to ensure that no individual had unfettered powers and discretion in applying the law.”

By May 2015 most of the top management of Sars, who had served the institution for many years, were gone.

The previous month, Ivan’s special adviser, Yolisa Pikie, resigned and shortly afterwards the deputy Sars spokesperson, Marika Muller, followed.

It was suggested that my manager, Gene Ravele, the chief officer: tax and customs enforcement, had also handed in a resignation letter in April 2015 but he was purportedly persuaded by [current Sars commissioner Tom] Moyane not to resign.

In the end, Ravele; chief HR officer Elizabeth Khumalo; the group executive: tax and customs enforcement, Godfrey Baloyi; and Brian Kgomo, group executive: internal audit, who served on the first Kanyane Panel [led by lawyer Moeti Kanyane, to look into Walter’s allegations] would leave Sars during the year.

They were part of the group of 55 senior officials who ultimately left the institution over a period of 19 months following Moyane’s appointment in October 2014.

Pillay and Richer resigned with immediate effect at the beginning of May “after a protracted and acrimonious disciplinary process”, according to City Press.

Shortly before his resignation, nine more charges were added to Pillay’s disciplinary hearing charge sheet.

In light of the claims that the unit had acquired and used all sorts of sophisticated spyware, I found it ironic that Ivan was also being charged for not providing the unit with sufficient resources, such as laptops and mobile phones.

His hearing was set to start later that month. Lebelo is quoted as saying that the “parting of ways were amicable” and that “all charges and related investigations” against Pillay and Richer had been withdrawn.

But, just days afterwards, the Sunday Times then ran a story with the headline, “Pillay faces criminal charges after Sars spies’ explosive confession”.

The article relates to events that allegedly took place in 2007 and were referred to as Project Sunday Evenings.

Significantly, the Sunday Times claimed to have seen two affidavits by Sars officials supposedly dated May 14 2015, three days before the story was published.

I can prove that no such affidavits existed then. I can only wonder what exactly it is that they saw, who showed them these “affidavits” and how they determined their authenticity.

Without unpacking this particular Sunday Times article, I can only conclude that there were still forces out there who were determined to completely discredit us.

Almost a year later City Press revealed that, just days after Pillay and Richer had left Sars, Moyane had registered a case with the police against Pillay, Gordhan and other former Sars officials.

Apparently, Moyane had told the police that the alleged crime was committed at Sars’s Nieuw Muckleneuk headquarters after May 4 2007.

So much for an “amicable” parting of ways...


Do you think the existence of the ‘rogue unit’ was a ploy?

SMS us on 35697 using the keyword ROGUE. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

Read more on:    sars  |  pravin gordhan  |  nhlanhla nene

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.