DISGRUNTLED former government employees are allegedly helping the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) gather intelligence on those perceived to be its enemies.
A City Press and Eyewitness News investigation has found that several former employees, who were either dismissed or resigned in the face of disciplinary and criminal charges, have teamed up in search of ways to find alternative employment or financial gain through threats to their previous employers.
Among the tactics used was to gain access to politically influential persons, including the ANCYL, to seek support for their cause. This placed them in a position to assist the embattled league.
At the centre of the controversy is dismissed South African Revenue Service (Sars) customs border agent Michael Peega, who has produced a controversial dossier for the league which claims that ANCYL president Julius Malema was being targeted by the taxman.
Peega, who was dismissed by Sars over several charges of misconduct last June, is currently out on bail of R20 000 and is facing trial as an alleged member of an international syndicate, with charges ranging from illegal poaching of rhino to possession of illegal firearms.
Peega is allegedly collaborating with others to gather information about journalists and other politicians who have written or voiced concern about Malema’s lavish lifestyle and business interests. The information is then compiled into so-called “intelligence dossiers”.
Sources who spoke to City Press and Eyewitness News on condition of anonymity claimed that Peega and others were using their contacts in government departments and banking institutions to compile the “dossiers”.
A government official said the dossiers were handed to the league to discredit those they perceived to be their enemies.
At a National Press Club ceremony on Friday night President Jacob Zuma, who received the 2009 Newsmaker of the Year Award, said threats to journalists and the digging up of their personal information had created a “totally unacceptable” scenario.
“What I have heard is actually shocking. We are now investigating journalists. For what?” Zuma said.
The comments came after a group of journalists lodged a complaint against the youth league’s spokesperson, Floyd Shivambu, for intimidation and threatening to expose confidential information.
The ANCYL has claimed it has information on journalists who were taking bribes in “brown envelopes”; some who “sleep with politicians” to get scoops; and others who sided with the left wing of the tripartite alliance between the ANC, Cosatu and SA Communist Party.
It is also understood, according to sources close to the league, that Peega and others were operating from the plush offices of the league’s investment company, Lembede Investment Holdings, in Sandton.
This “team”, sources claimed, had access to laptop computers, 3G connections and money to enable easy movement across the country to gather “intelligence”.
The “team” was assembled some time after Peega had been fired by Sars.
Sources alleged that Peega had been engaging several government employees since then – claiming to have access to funds and political support in the formation of the team – in order to get access to information in those government departments.
After initially threatening to stop City Press publishing the report last night, Peega labelled the allegations against him as “bullshit”.
He also denied doing any work for the ANCYL or receiving payment from the party. “I have not been working … I am currently unemployed and have not collected any intelligence information for anyone,” he said.
He denied knowing senior politicians in the ANC, despite the fact that while in Durban on a drugs mission for Sars, he bumped into and introduced his colleagues to ANC heavyweights such as Tony Yengeni, Fikile Mbalula and presidential spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.
Another source said the dossiers were clearly sprinkled with a few facts in order to make them appear legitimate, but they were largely fictitious.
Malema has already used a similar dossier, which Peega has confirmed writing – to deflect growing media attention on his business interests in Limpopo, claiming that he and others linked to Zuma were the targets of investigations by Sars.
In this report Peega claimed that Sars – while Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was commissioner – set up a unit called the National Research Group to examine the wealth of people who supported Zuma.
Sars, while admitting the existence of such a unit which dealt with serious investigations into organised crime and cross-border smuggling, has already extensively refuted the contents of the dossier. It claimed it was a fictional creation of Peega’s and other “disgruntled” employees in an attempt to discredit the taxman.
Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay said they were aware of Peega’s threats and that “several meetings and interactions occurred between dismissed and disgruntled employees” at which the compilation of the dossier was discussed. For Sars’s comment, see our website.