Explosive recordings of a meeting between former SARS commissioner Tom Moyane and two members of the SARS ''rogue unit'' in early 2015 have revealed that Moyane knew fact from fiction from the very beginning.
The recordings reveal how two men – Helgard Lombard and Johan de Waal - who played central roles in the SARS unit, debunked several allegations over the unit's alleged activities to Moyane and his right-hand man at the time, Jonas Makwakwa.
They explained categorically to Moyane that allegations that the unit unlawfully spied on taxpayers, intercepted communications, planted bugs in former president Jacob Zuma's home, infiltrated politicians to spy on them or purchased sophisticated spy equipment among others, were false.
Despite these revelations, Moyane never corrected the public narrative over these issues and never spoke out in defence of SARS when the Sunday Times published the allegations, and seemingly never provided the information he had at his disposal to KPMG investigators.
Moyane never disputed the content of the KPMG report when it was finalised, despite him being aware of a different version of events. Instead, when KPMG announced its decision to withdraw the findings and recommendations of its report, a furious Moyane threatened to take legal action against the audit firm.
Instead, Moyane muzzled the members of the unit and former executives from speaking to the media, despite almost weekly exposés of their alleged transgressions, and told Lombard not to attend an interview with KPMG, who Moyane appointed to investigate the unit.
In June 2018, News24 published a telephone call between Moyane and Lombard, where Moyane instructs Lombard not to attend a scheduled interview with KPMG investigators.
Lombard and De Waal are two key state witnesses in an ongoing criminal trial against former SARS executives Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg and Andries Janse van Rensburg.
They were suspended in 2015 and remained at home until earlier this year when they returned to work at SARS for the first time in four years.
Their revelations to Moyane alone contain crucial and potentially exculpatory evidence that directly contradicts Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's findings, the Sikhakhane Panel report, the KPMG report and the recently leaked Inspector General of Intelligence report as well as some of the National Prosecuting Authority's charges against Pillay, Van Loggerenberg and Janse van Rensburg.
Lombard and De Waal also revealed to Moyane how they uncovered a plot by State Security Agency (SSA) officials to discredit SARS, driven by triple-agent Belinda Walter, her handler Chris Burger and other elements of the SSA.
Walter was at the time in a relationship with Van Loggerenberg, and handed her old phones to him for the data to be extracted.
De Waal explains to Moyane that another member of the HRIU, Anton van Woudt, used his own equipment to extract the data from Walter's phones.
In the years since, Moyane, it appears, did nothing with the information about the "SSA plot". Data extracted from Walter's old phones proving the plot allegedly sat on Moyane's desk for years, until his departure from SARS.
Where do these recordings come from?
The recordings form part of the Rule 53 record filed by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in an ongoing judicial review application brought by minister Pravin Gordhan.
Mkhwebane in a recent report found against Gordhan and other former SARS executives, finding that they had unlawfully established an intelligence unit at the tax agency in 2007, and that the unit conducted unlawful intelligence operations.
Gordhan wants the court to set aside the report. Rule 53 records are filed when reports such as Mkhwebane's are taken on review. According to the rules of the courts every piece of evidence relied on in the investigation must be filed.
News24 has established that the recordings Mkhwebane relied on were edited to exclude vital information and disclosures made to Moyane.
News24 has obtained pieces of the recordings not contained in Mkhwebane's version of the recordings.
The conversation between Moyane, Makwakwa and Lombard and De Waal was recorded by Moyane as well as the two SARS officials.
Lombard and De Waal decided to approach Moyane to "confess" when it became clear to them that KPMG had discovered that Lombard had planted sophisticated bugging devices at the offices of the Scorpions in 2007.
This incident has since become known as "Project Sunday Evenings", and is the subject of the criminal charges against Pillay, Janse van Rensburg and Van Loggerenberg.
This spurred Moyane on to open the now infamous case at Brooklyn SAPS – case number 427/05/2015, alleging that sometime during 2007 a crime was committed at SARS.
A large portion of the conversation deals with the planting of these bugs and Lombard reveals to Moyane that he was asked by then Scorpions boss Gerrie Nel to install the systems.
The Scorpions also paid for his services and the equipment from their secret C-Fund account.
The story becomes murky when the men reveal that Pillay was handed some transcripts of the recorded conversations inside the Scorpions, particularly Nel's office.