EFF’s Julius Malema asked SARS 'rogue unit' boss for help

EFF leader Julius Malema. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla
EFF leader Julius Malema. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla

EFF president Julius Malema, through his attorney, once approached the former SA Revenue Service (SARS) executive at the centre of the "rogue unit" saga, Johann van Loggerenberg, for help with his tax affairs.

Malema and Van Loggerenberg also met at The Sheraton hotel in 2010, where the SARS executive attempted to explain in great detail why the narrative in a so-called intelligence dossier Project Snowman, that a rogue unit was operating at the tax service, was false.

During the meeting, Malema was recorded saying he accepted SARS's facts showing the narrative of the unit was false.

The EFF's Floyd Shivambu was the complainant in the matter that led to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report, which contained the finding that the SARS unit had been established unlawfully.

Project Snowman was the building block for various reports since it also found against the SARS unit. But it has been consistently and repeatedly debunked as filled with factual and material inaccuracies for the past nine years.

This was revealed in a bombshell affidavit by Van Loggerenberg, filed as part of an ongoing review application seeking to set aside a Public Protector report which contained the finding that the High-Risk Investigations Unit, later dubbed the "rogue unit", had been established unlawfully.

Van Loggerenberg also revealed that State Security Agency (SSA) triple agent and one-time tobacco industry attorney Belinda Walter, who is regarded as someone at the centre of the rogue unit narrative, registered the trademark of the EFF logo.

The former SARS man questioned why Malema sought to downplay his relationship with Walter in court papers, saying that, in fact, "they go back a long way".

The 2010 meeting

Van Loggerenberg's affidavit revealed that in 2010, then deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay requested that he meet with Malema "given the publicity he was giving to Project Snowman".

The Project Snowman dossier was authored by former SARS official Michael Peega who was fired from SARS in 2008 following his arrest for rhino poaching.

Peega also moonlighted as a bodyguard for Malema.

"I did exactly that. Mr Malema agreed to meet me at his convenience at The Sheraton hotel at a time and date suitable to him. I recorded the entire conversation which will be on record at SARS," Van Loggerenberg said.

"I painstakingly took Mr Malema through the entire line-by-line refutation [of Snowman], pointing to each and every factual lie and flaw, and then handed him each annexure in respect of each aspect I raised."

"At a stage in our discussion, Mr Malema seemed no longer interested in my lengthy explanations and he abruptly ended the conversation, stating that he accepted my bona fides, he accepted SARS' explanations and he asked if he could keep the file I had with me."

Van Loggerenberg added that Malema agreed with a request that he share the facts with President Jacob Zuma and ensure Zuma understood that Malema accepted SARS's explanations.

"Having read Mr Malema's affidavit, it is apparent he makes no mention of his knowledge concerning Project Snowman, in particular, that he is aware of its falseness and his acceptance that this is indeed so. Nor does he disclose his relationship with Peega," Van Loggerenberg stated.

In around 2014, Walter was involved in a relationship with Van Loggerenberg.

What Malema didn't say about Belinda Walter

Van Loggerenberg also questioned why Malema sought to downplay his relationship with Walter.

She is regarded as being at the centre of allegations that the "rogue unit" existed at SARS under Van Loggerenberg, as her complaint over his alleged impropriety shortly after he ended their relationship led to wide-ranging investigations that sought to unearth allegations of covert activities by the unit.

"Mr Malema is well aware that Ms Walter is much more than merely a member of the public and a lawyer for tobacco companies as she is coyly described in paragraph 12.1 of his affidavit. I find it very strange that Mr Malema has not taken the court into his confidence and set out the facts known to him regarding Ms Walter. In fact, they go back a long way," Van Loggerenberg's affidavit read.

Walter, it turns out, was involved in the process of registering the trademark of the EFF logo in 2014 and Van Loggerenberg attached an e-mail from Walter to prove it.

She was also the attorney of Carnilinx, a cigarette manufacturer partly owned by long-time EFF benefactor, Adriano Mazzotti.

"Mr Malema's attorney, Mr Tumi Mokwena, informed me when he sought to consult with me between March 2015 to May 2015 that he and his client had been consulting with Ms Walter with respect to a dispute that Mr Malema had with SARS," Van Loggerenberg said, revealing that Malema had sought his assistance and Walter's, despite publicly available information pointing to her status as an SSA agent.

Responding to News24's report on Friday afternoon, the EFF leader said he called "reluctantly" because he believed News24 on Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan and Van Loggerenberg's "side".

Malema confirmed that he met Van Loggerenberg in 2010, but gave further details about the meeting. He said he had attended a meeting with former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and then commissioner Oupa Magashula.

During this meeting, Pillay allegedly took Malema to task for saying that SARS was targeting Zuma loyalists.

"I said to them it's wrong to target people based on their political affiliation. Pillay said to me that he had helped sort out Zuma's tax affairs, so how could I say they were targeting Zuma people?"

Read the full response here

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