Intelligence watchdog 'lost' truckloads of information related to the SARS 'rogue unit' drama

Johann van Loggerenberg (Beeld/Netwerk24)
Johann van Loggerenberg (Beeld/Netwerk24)

A trove of intelligence, documents and other datasets handed to the inspector-general of intelligence by the former head of SARS’s investigations unit in 2014, and which allegedly proves the extent and scope of the conspiracy against the taxman, has been lost.

These datasets, which include a range of documents, recordings, private correspondence and messages, as well as briefing documents, were handed to the then IGI Faith Radebe and her team by Johann van Loggerenberg, then the head of SARS’s High-Risk Investigation Unit on September 29, 2014, after two meetings between the IGI and SARS representatives.

The meetings were part of the IGI’s investigation into allegations that a unit of the State Security Agency (SSA), the Special Operations Unit, was involved in alleged illegal and irregular activities to attack and discredit SARS and other senior civil servants. The IGI, however, exonerated the SSA and instead found the HRIU was acting illegally and that Van Loggerenberg, then-SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and then-finance minister Pravin Gordhan be criminally investigated.

ALSO READ: ANALYSIS | Genesis: How the SARS rogue unit narrative was born and normalised

According to a series of letters between Van Loggerenberg’s attorneys and the IGI, attached to an affidavit by Van Loggerenberg and lodged by Pillay at the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, he has been unable to access recordings and transcripts of the two meetings he had with the IGI. The current IGI, Setlhomamaru Dintwe, has confirmed to Van Loggerenberg that the recordings and the evidence he provided to Radebe in 2014 have been lost.

The final IGI report makes no reference to the information SARS and Van Loggerenberg provided to the IGI during the course of the 10-week long investigation in 2014. It, in fact, relies heavily on the testimony given by individuals implicated by Van Loggerenberg when he identified a range of individuals as being involved in an operation to hobble SARS.

In a letter addressed to Radebe on September 29, 2014, Van Loggerenberg attaches various pieces of evidence which SARS felt should form part of the IGI’s investigation into the SSA and the SOU.

This includes:

  • Explosive internal SARS memoranda about attempts at the highest levels of the then-government to thwart SARS investigations;
  • These documents also contained recordings about secret meetings where senior government officials were discussing irregular normalisation of their tax affairs;
  • Recordings of smuggling kingpin Glenn Agliotti talking about bribing government officials and how the illegal tobacco trade functioned with the assistance of the SSA, NPA and Hawks;
  • Messages and communication between a range of senior SSA operatives and managers, including Gibson Njenje (then director-general of SSA), Belinda Walter, who also worked for SSA and laid the original complaint against Van Loggerenberg, Ferdi Fryer, an SSA operative and others, which shows an alleged conspiracy by SSA against SARS;
  • Privileged correspondence between SARS and SSA about the two organisations’ working relationship; and
  • Notes made by Van Loggerenberg after meetings with journalists about the inner-workings of the SSA’s SOU.

These datasets were in addition to evidence that Van Loggerenberg provided to the IGI in his first meeting with Radebe and her assistant, advocate Jay Govender, on August 25, 2014. This meeting also served as a formal interview, which was transcribed and recorded.

According to Van Loggerenberg’s affidavit, he used the meeting to convey to the IGI all of SARS’s concerns about the assault against the institution and laid 38 complaints at the IGI concerning the undermining of and attacks on SARS by, among others, the SSA.

He also verbally delved into the datasets and selected pieces of evidence presented to the IGI, including the details surrounding the explosive internal SARS memoranda about attempts at the highest levels of the then-government to thwart SARS investigations.

According to the September 2014 letter to the IGI, Van Loggerenberg said he believes Pillay "briefed a high office on these matters…". It is unclear who exactly occupied the referenced office.

Van Loggerenberg’s detailing of this, allegedly highly-sensitive briefing, was also given and explained to Radebe during their first meeting. Transcripts and recordings have, however, been lost and there is no reference to it in the final IGI report.

The IGI recently confirmed that it will investigate Van Loggerenberg’s original complaints about the assault on SARS and that an additional number of individuals, including Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, former SSA head Arthur Fraser, journalists Piet Rampedi and Mzilikazi wa Afrika and former SARS commissioner Tom Moyane will be added to its probe.

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