President Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS

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On the 26th of November 2016, at an ordinary National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) in Pretoria, [president] Jacob Zuma and his faction were ambushed with an extraordinary motion to discuss whether to ask Zuma to resign[i] [ii].

The motion was tabled by Derek Hanekom, who is tourism minister in Zuma’s cabinet, but more significant under the circumstances, Hanekom is also the chairperson of the ANC’s national disciplinary committee (NDC)[iii]. The fact that the NDC chair had placed the ANC’s integrity cards on the table was, in of itself, a serious indictment on Zuma and his faction. Those supporting the motion cited as their reasons: the former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report, which implicated Zuma and his cronies in irregular activity; and, the Constitutional Court ruling that found Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution [Mail & Guardian][iv].

There was now no going back.

Although Hanekom’s motion was ultimately defeated by Zuma’s sleight of hand (such as blocking a vote on the matter, never mind a secret ballot[v]), lines had unequivocally been drawn. A proxy war within the ANC had been declared.

A day after the ANC confirmed that Zuma remained in his post, Hanekom tweeted the words of motivational speaker, Dennis Waitley, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them”[vi].

Zuma is expected to respond in due course to those who opposed him (including at least six ministers in Zuma’s own cabinet[vii] [viii]) - it is just a question of how and when.

“The president told us that he will never step down, as it would be like handing himself over to the enemy, and that there are people who want to see him in jail and they will never stop,” an NEC member told News24, soon after the motion was tabled[ix].

But even before the historic NEC confrontation, Andre Duvenhage, political analyst, said, “We are looking at the implosion of the Zuma regime. He is now fighting like a wounded buffalo. He is desperate to survive. Zuma will fight to the bitter end.”[x]

But Hanekom seems prepared for the challenge ahead, tweeting a line by the late former US president, Thomas Jefferson, who said, “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him.” [xi]

While, a fellow freedom defender, finance minister Pravin Gordhan said months earlier in August 2016 to hundreds of Treasury staff members,  that he would face whatever consequences may come, even if it meant dying to save the country from “the thieves” [Sunday Times][xii].

So what can we expect from Zuma’s fight-back?

Stephan Grootes wrote in November 2016 in the Daily Maverick, “Zuma may try to use the security cluster, the Hawks, the spooks, the Nhlekos, Ntlemezas and the Mahlobos against [those who oppose him]. Phones will be re-tapped, contacts re-monitored, charges laid again. It will become even harder to determine fact from fiction.”[xiii]

In which case, before the facts are concealed beneath Zuma’s work of fiction, let’s dig deep into the goings-on of his security cluster, so we can prepare.


Special Ops

In 2014 veteran investigative journalist Jacques Pauw of the City Press wrote that in the wake of a break-up between a self-confessed spy and an executive in the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the existence of a shadowy security unit called the Special Operations Unit (SOU), embedded in the State Security Agency (SSA), came to light[xiv] [xv].

Pauw wrote that rogue elements within the SSA-SOU were exposed as[xvi] [xvii]:

  • discrediting top civil servants - including former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat, and former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecutor and now Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of justice Glynnis Breytenbach[xviii] [xix] [xx];
  • conducting dirty tricks campaigns - in an attempt to reinstate former police crime intelligence head and murder-accused, Richard Mdluli[xxi] [xxii]; 
  • working to remove top management at SARS, such as former acting commissioner Ivan Pillay, as well as former National Research Group (NRG) head Johann van Loggerenberg[xxiii] [xxiv]; 
  • creating a company which allegedly employed convicted drug dealer Glen Agliotti[xxv] [xxvi] [xxvii] [xxviii] to recruit tobacco smugglers[xxix] [xxx] [xxxi]; and 
  • assisting local and international tobacco companies to spy on each other and to protect their commercial interests[xxxii] [xxxiii] [xxxiv] [xxxv] .

Tartar Sauce

Before smoke gets into your eyes, let’s turn our gaze to the tar-nished world of tobacco.

In September 2013, Belinda Walter – an attorney who at that time chaired the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita), which represented small tobacco companies – sought a meeting with National Research Group (NRG) head at SARS, Johann van Loggerenberg[xxxvi] [xxxvii].

In October 2013, Van Loggerenberg was then invited on a date by Walter “out of the blue”[xxxviii]. A serious relationship ensued. (Van Loggerenberg was single.)[xxxix] [xl] [xli] [xlii] [xliii] [xliv] [xlv]

Van Loggerenberg, meanwhile, had started investigations that year into the multi-billion rand tobacco industry, including tobacco smugglers and racketeering[xlvi] [xlvii].

Jan De Lange wrote in the City Press that SARS had suspected in 2013 that 40% of the cigarettes sold in SA were being produced illegally, or smuggled into the country[xlviii] [xlix]. This translates into a tax loss for SA of between R4 billion and R5 billion every year[l] [li].

(City Press reported that about half of the illegal tobacco products smuggled into SA came from Zimbabwe by Zimbabwean-based companies, one of which has direct links to a family member of [president] Robert Mugabe[lii] [liii] [liv].)

According to Rapport and City Press, out of the multiple companies Van Loggerenberg was investigating for cigarette smuggling, some had links - at one stage or other - with Zuma’s eldest son Edward, and Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse [lv] [lvi] [lvii] [lviii].

In particular, Jen-Chih “Robert” Huang – a SA-based Taiwanese businessman and a condemned murderer[lix] [lx] - was being investigated by the NRG. In 2011, law-enforcement officials who spoke to the M&G on condition of anonymity, expressed their concern that Huang had gathered a number of former SARS employees around himself - some of whom had left SARS under a cloud[lxi].

Khulubuse Zuma. Picture: REUTERS
Khulubuse Zuma. Picture: REUTERS

Huang is a business partner of Khulubuse[lxii] [lxiii]. But that is not the only Huang-Zuma association. The M&G reported that Michael Hulley used to work for Huang’s group of companies before becoming Zuma’s legal advisor and lawyer[lxiv]. Huang is said to have used Hulley and his law firm to defend cases brought against him by SARS[lxv] [lxvi] [lxvii].

As to Khulubuse and Hulley, the M&G stated in September 2016 that they share four directorships together, thus they are also business partners[lxviii].

Besides Huang being indirectly linked to Zuma via his nephew and his legal advisor, according to Jan De Lange in the City Press, Huang accompanied Zuma on a state visit to China in 2010[lxix]; in 2014 News24 reported that Huang acted as a middle man between Zuma and Chinese investor[lxx]; and, Max du Preez in News24 reported in March 2016 that Huang has apparently flown on occasion from Durban to Nkandla with Zuma in an Air Force helicopter[lxxi].

More on Huang will follow in due course.

The investigations in 2013 by customs officials and the NRG into the tobacco industry quickly yielded results. Over just a four month period in early 2014 - customs confiscated at least 50 tons of tobacco, while SARS confiscated about R400 million’s worth of illegal tobacco products, and registered 15 criminal cases with the Hawks.  

Court documents at the time said that the figure of R540-odd million owed to SARS by Huang, his wife and four of his companies for the period 2008 to 2012, was only a preliminary estimate

In addition, in an attempt to collect around R12 billion in unpaid taxes and custom duties between 2011 and 2013, SARS warned 12 cigarette importers and manufacturers that they were being investigated and ordered to cooperate [City Press & Daily Maverick][lxxii] [lxxiii].

Specifically, in April 2013[lxxiv] SARS froze R541 million in assets linked to Huang[lxxv]. (The court’s freezing order included cars worth R32 million, and houses worth R99 million.) [News24][lxxvi] [lxxvii]. Court documents at the time said that the figure of R540-odd million owed to SARS by Huang, his wife and four of his companies for the period 2008 to 2012, was only a preliminary estimate[lxxviii][lxxix].

Meanwhile, months into the romantic relationship between Walter and Van Loggerenberg, Walter confessed to him that she worked as a lawyer for a tobacco company (Carnilinx), while simultaneously she was a secret informer for a rival tobacco company (British American Tobacco SA - BATSA), which paid her a reputed R900 000 to spy on her clients and on Fita members[lxxx] [lxxxi] [lxxxii] [lxxxiii].

Van Loggerenberg would later say that he had had “no inkling of the depth of her involvement in the tobacco industry”[lxxxiv] – the very industry he was investigating.

Johann Van Loggerenberg.Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Johann Van Loggerenberg.Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

(The Daily Maverick reported that BAT has consistently denied involvement in any illegal activities, and its standard response is, that it “strongly denies any involvement in industrial espionage or illegal activity that may be linked to other local tobacco manufactures”[lxxxv]. Marianne Thamm of the Daily Maverick reported in August 2016 of a massive data leak posted on a Twitter account which allegedly exposed BATSA’s roll in bribery and corruption, and contained “explosive documents” [Daily Maverick][lxxxvi].)

But Walter was not done confessing. She also admitted to Van Loggerenberg that she was a SSA spy[lxxxvii] [lxxxviii] [lxxxix] [xc] [xci], and that she had covertly recorded their conversation for the SSA when they first met in September 2013[xcii][xciii]. (Walter was allegedly recruited in 2009 as a SSA operative[xciv].)

A date with data

In May 2014, Walter and Van Loggerenberg had an acrimonious break-up[xcv] [xcvi] [xcvii] [xcviii].

 (Van Loggerenberg would later say, “I had a nagging feeling she was hiding things from me,” and that they had reached a breaking point when he had found she had “gone through my phone messages and email without my permission for the third time.”[xcix])

Also in May 2014, and a few days before the national elections, SARS confiscated 181 300 ANC T-shirts, bearing a photograph of Jacob Zuma[c] [ci] [cii] [ciii].  The ANC had paid R118 million for campaign T-shirts[civ] [cv] [cvi] [cvii].

The confiscated T-shirts had been imported for the ANC[cviii] from China by Huang, but since the import duties and taxes of R41 million had not been paid, SARS held on to the consignment[cix] [cx] [cxi] . (Apparently 18 500 of the campaign T-shirts were meant as a donation by Huang to the ANC[cxii].)

M&G said anonymous sources told them that Hulley (who has business ties with Huang) personally contacted the then acting SARS commissioner, Ivan Pillay, to get the consignment released[cxiii] [cxiv], but that, “Ivan refused to be bullied. They had to pay.”[cxv] [cxvi]

Sources told City Press that a notice of motion regarding the T-shirt had then been drafted by Hulley of Hulley & Associates[cxvii], but an advocate advised the ANC to discontinue with the legal action, because “it would embarrass”  the party[cxviii]. The ANC ultimately paid the duties[cxix].

The cover of Van Loggerenberg's book, Rogue
The cover of Van Loggerenberg's book, Rogue

Meanwile, soon after the break-up between Van Loggerenberg and Walter in May 2014, Van Loggerenberg started to piece together the existence of the SOU and their links to a multi-agency Illicit-Tobacco Task Team (which included officials from the Hawks, Crime intelligence, SSA and NPA, but not SARS[cxx])[cxxi] [cxxii] [cxxiii] [cxxiv]. Van Loggerenberg said later (in a book he co-authored with former SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay, entitled Rogue: The Inside Story of SARS’ Elite Crime-busting Unit[cxxv]) that he and others often stumbled across leads and information that other agencies would have preferred to hide [City Press][cxxvi]. Van Loggerenberg’s investigation was greatly assisted by information Walter had handed to him, in his private capacity during their relationship, to “use it as I wished” [cxxvii].

 (Walter later denied his claim[cxxviii]; however, Lackay insisted he had seen communications between Van Loggerenberg and Walter which he said showed that, “Ms Walter’s denial is patently false”[cxxix] [cxxx].)

Meanwhile, as Van Loggerenberg started digging through the data, Walter lodged a complaint at the end of May 2014 against him with SARS, calling him mentally ill, unstable, a pathological liar and a sociopath “likened to a paedophile”[cxxxi] [cxxxii].  SARS set up a panel in June 2014 to look into Walter’s claims[cxxxiii] [cxxxiv], but two months later, in August 2014 the SARS panel found Walter’s allegations were not credible, and recommended that unless Walter’s allegations were not disputed (which they were by Van Loggerenberg) or corroborated by other information, there was no basis for a formal investigation[cxxxv] [cxxxvi].


I am not and have never been involved with any 'SOU' unit of the SSA and do not have any knowledge whatsoever of its existence
Belinda Walter

Then, on the 10th of August 2014, veteran journalist Pauw released his report in the City Press, exposing Walter as an SSA agent, and that she was linked to a shady organisation, the SOU, consisting of rogue agents who were up to no good, including working to remove those in SARS who were investigating tobacco smugglers, such as investigator Van Loggerenberg, and the top executive of SARS[cxxxvii] [cxxxviii].

According to NoseWeek, Walter was aware that City Press was going to run the story, as the newspaper had approached her for a comment prior to publication[cxxxix].

 After the piece was published,  Walter objected to the allegations made against her, saying they were “false” and “defamatory”[cxl], and that, “I am not and have never been involved with any 'SOU' unit of the SSA and do not have any knowledge whatsoever of its existence.”[cxli] 

On the exact same day Pauw’s report was publised, the Sunday Times newspaper – using Walter’s unsubstantiated allegations as their main source - released a story that Van Loggerenberg shared confidential tax information with her, and that he had been an “apartheid spy”[cxlii] [cxliii]. (Accusations which Van Loggerenberg denied, and which the Sunday Times would later retract[cxliv] [cxlv] [cxlvi].)

NoseWeek reported a year later, in August 2015, that before the Sunday Times had run their (unsubstantiated but damaging) story about Van Loggerenberg,  Walter had confessed to the Sunday Times of her SSA involvement and that she had sold information about her clients[cxlvii] - and yet they did not print a word about Walter’s revelations[cxlviii].

On the 23rd of September 2014, precisely one month and ten days after the judgement against Huang, Tom Moyane – a confidante of Zuma - was appointed as the new SARS commissioner

On the 13th of August 2014, the High Court released its written judgement on Huang’s application to overturn the warrants awarded to SARS to seize his property of about R541 million[cxlix] [cl]. Court papers filed earlier by SARS stated that Huang’s companies had reportedly broken almost every tax rule in the book, and that Huang was operating a vast network of front companies to dodge the taxman[cli].

The court dismissed Huang’s application with costs, including costs of three counsel[clii] [cliii].

On the 31st of August 2014, Pauw reported in the City Press that a tobacco company which Walter had worked for as a lawyer (Carnilinx) was being sued in court by SARS for tax evasion[cliv].

Pauw wrote that three affidavits filed before the North Gauteng High Court accused Walter of breaching attorney-client privilege in the “gravest manner possible”, and that her actions were described as “unlawful”, “wrong” and “illegal” [clv]. City Press reported that the affidavits said Walter was involved in both industrial and state espionage, and sold confidential client information[clvi]. The affidavits were said to have related to a meeting in February 2014,  where Walter confessed to a senior advocate as well as two directors (of Carnilinx) that she was an SSA agent and that she was on the payroll of a rival company (BATSA) to spy on competitors[clvii].

SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane. Picture: GCIS
SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane. Picture: GCIS

On the 23rd of September 2014, precisely one month and ten days after the judgement against Huang, Tom Moyane – a confidante of Zuma - was appointed as the new SARS commissioner[clviii].

Max du Preez reported in News24 of a dossier held at SARS headquarters containing dynamite allegations of corruption, fraud, front companies and foreign bank accounts against prominent benefactors of Zuma[clix].  Du Preez said that he was told the state security minister David Mahlobo – a Zuma devotee - personally involved himself with the safeguarding of the dossier[clx].

Du Preez also said the source of the dossier was “the crack SARS investigative unit established during Gordhan’s reign at SARS”, which one can safely assume is the NRG formerly headed by Van Loggerenberg[clxi]. Du Preez said that amongst Zuma’s friends investigated by the NRG was the super-wealthy businessman Thoshan Panday, and Huang[clxii].

But Zuma’s motivation here may not just be for his friends – Du Preez wrote that if the dossier were to be acted upon, it could well open Zuma up to prosecution himself and/or a massive income tax bill – at least for evading donations tax[clxiii]. And then there are Zuma’s family members to consider, like his nephew Khulubuse and his eldest son, Edward…

(Later, in February 2015, Pauli van Wyk wrote in Netwerk24 that Huang owed SARS at least R1.8 billion. A source told Netwerk24 that there was concern that the investigation could be jeopardised after Zuma allegedly intervened personally to ask the new tax commissioner – Tom Moyane - for a “settlement outside the tax audit”. At the time of Van Wyk’s article, the presidency acknowledged receiving questions on this allegation, but it had not responded after two working days [The Witness newspaper].  And since 2015 to present, no recorded response could be located. [clxiv].)

Having been appointed commissioner in September 2014, Moyane became the keeper of the dossier’s secrets[clxv].

Less than twenty days after Moyane’s appointment[clxvi] [clxvii], and - as investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh described - “Mere weeks after Pauw's exposé [on the SSA’s rogue unit, the SOU], all hell broke loose at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), when the Sunday Times ran the first of a myriad ‘revelations’ on a ‘rogue unit’ supposedly operating at SARS, not at the SSA.” [News24][clxviii]

“One of the most powerful weapons in a magician's arsenal is misdirection. In fact, the only thing that helps a magician get away with trickery more than a good bit of misdirection is an audience that's been drinking heavily.” – trade secrets from a mallusionist[clxix]

Rogue reporting

Van Loggerenberg was accused in multiple (but now-discredited) Sunday Times articles of leading a covert SARS unit, the National Research Group, referred to colloquially in the newspaper as a “rogue spy unit”.

In December 2014, Pillay was suspended for his alleged involvement in creating the mythical “rogue unit”

The Sunday Times said at the time that the so-called SARS “rogue unit” had “broken the law by collecting covert intelligence and flouting its own recruitment processes to nail targeted taxpayers”[clxx]. One of those taxpayers said to have been illegally targeted was Zuma[clxxi]. 

For good measure, the Sunday Times also (falsely) stated that the “unit” ran a “brothel”[clxxii] [clxxiii] [clxxiv] , and that Van Loggerenberg had written a “confession” letter to SARS commissioner Tom Moyane admitting that he had indeed run a “rogue unit”[clxxv] [clxxvi].

SARS vehemently denied that the NRG, headed by Van Loggerenberg, was committing illegal acts[clxxvii].

In December 2014, Pillay was suspended for his alleged involvement in creating the mythical “rogue unit”. He also faced 10 charges ranging from corruption and dishonesty to contravening codes of conduct and various legal prescripts[clxxviii].

Former Hawks boss Anwar Dramat. Picture: SABC
Former Hawks boss Anwar Dramat. Picture: SABC

That same month, on the 5th of December 2014, the head of tax and customs investigations at SARS, Gene Ravele, reportedly missed a compulsory high-level meeting. A source  told The Witness newspaper that, "Ravele sent back a message he was busy sorting out the  Mpisi case [Huang's company group] as was urgently requested by the president." [Pauli van Wyk, The Witness newspaper].

Still in December 2014, police minister Nhleko – and Zuma lackey – suspended the then Hawks Boss Anwa Dramat[clxxix], after a campaign by the SOU to discredit him[clxxx].  Dramat, who was investigating several “sensitive” cases, including the public spending on Nkandla  as well as the activities of Thoshan Panday[clxxxi], was forced to hand over all his dockets[clxxxii].

In January 2015, Moyane began his review of SARS, its staff members, its IT system, and its processes [Daily Maverick][clxxxiii].

Facing three separate investigations, and a media campaign to discredit him, Van Loggerenberg tendered his resignation in February 2015, only acknowledging that he had “erred in personal judgement concerning a matter in my private life... I believe I need to take responsibility and accountability for this”[clxxxiv] [clxxxv].

Van Loggerenberg was but one of 55 investigators and senior officials purged from SARS in early 2015 under Moyane’s leadership, including Ivan Pillay

Van Loggerenberg maintained - then and now - that the NRG was established lawfully, with ministerial approval, and operated within the policy and legal frameworks[clxxxvi]. (Gordhan stated the same in August 2016, in his four-page letter sent to the Hawks[clxxxvii].) Furthermore, Van Loggerenberg said, “I deny that I have ever broken any law or done anything illegal (or allowed any unit or Sars official that reported to me to do so) whilst I was a Sars manager,” he insisted[clxxxviii].

Van Loggerenberg was but one of 55 investigators and senior officials purged from SARS in early 2015 under Moyane’s leadership, including Ivan Pillay[clxxxix] [cxc] [cxci].

In March 2015, Moyane lodged a complaint with the Hawks to investigate the so-called SARS “rogue unit”[cxcii]. Marianne Thamm said in the Daily Maverick that it is this case “that keeps repeating like a bad bout of indigestion, returning periodically to haunt Gordhan, other former members of the SARS executive, the country and the economy.”[cxciii]

At the end of 2015, Van Loggerenberg made a submission against the Sunday Times to the Press Ombudsman. The Ombudsman found the newspaper had committed a serious breach of the Press Code, in that it had failed to take care to report news truthfully, accurately and fairly, and that it had to apologise to Van Loggerenberg for unnecessarily tarnishing his dignity and reputation[cxciv].

Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko. Picture: SUPPLIED
Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko. Picture: SUPPLIED

In April 2016, the Sunday Times, under a newly appointed editor, Bongani Siqoko, printed a full-page apology for the paper’s reportage of about 30 stories on the SARS “rogue unit” [cxcv] [cxcvi]. The Sunday Times said, “Today we admit to you that we got some things wrong,” and “In particular, we stated some allegations as fact, and gave incomplete information in some cases”[cxcvii] [cxcviii]. The newspaper added that, “we should have… not overly relied on our sources” [cxcix] [cc].

In the same apology, the paper admitted faulty reporting in regards to Ivan Pillay and Van Loggerenberg, and more specifically - “we reported incorrectly that Johann van Loggerenberg had written a ‘confession’ letter to SARS commissioner Tom Moyane admitting that he had indeed run a ‘rogue unit’. The document contains no such confession. It was, in fact, a denial.”[cci]

One can only imagine why Moyane – the recipient of the letter - did not set the public record straight himself, instead of the newspaper having to do so.

Digging rogues

In November 2016, News24 revealed the existence of an “undercover” task team in SARS, which is tasked with digging up dirt on Gordhan and former members of the NRG[ccii]. SARS denied the existence of the unit[cciii]; however, according to News24’s sources, the unit is being led by Yegan Mundie and one other[cciv].

There was a discernable pattern – discernable across a number of public institutions – where key individuals, experienced, reputable and independent-minded public servants, have been cynically shunted aside, or out
Johann Kriegler

Furthermore, Angelique Serrao of News24 wrote that Mundie has been linked, via his wife, to - none other than - Huang[ccv]. It turns out Mundie’s wife was employed at a Huang-owned clearing agency while the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit of SARS, under which Mundie’s duties fell, were investigating the very same company[ccvi].

(Mundie and his wife refused to issue a comment to News24. However, curiously, SARS defended Mundie saying when he joined SARS in 2008, he informed SARS management of “his relationship” with the Huang-owned clearing agency[ccvii]. Yet, SARS goes on to say that they were not aware that Mundie’s wife had worked there[ccviii].)

In conclusion, three senior SARS sources told City Press in 2015 that Huang’s tax matters were among the high-profile cases that investigators deemed to be “career limiting”[ccix].

This proved true for Van Loggerenberg, Pillay, and 53 other SARS officials.

Retired Constitutional Court justice, Johann Kriegler - in justifying writing the foreword of Van Loggerenberg’s and Lackay’s book Rogue – observed that, “there was a discernable pattern – discernable across a number of public institutions – where key individuals, experienced, reputable and independent-minded public servants, have been cynically shunted aside, or out. Typically, the process starts with some or other alleged transgression, relatively trivial and/or outdated. That then triggers well-publicised suspension and disciplinary proceedings with concomitant humiliation, harassment and, ultimately, dismissal, constructive or actual. Then, with breathtaking speed, a hand-picked acting successor steps in and cleans out senior management; and when you look again there is a brand new crop of compliant and grateful faces.

“In the process, honourable women and men have been ground down, ignominiously kicked out, their reputations ruined and their life savings exhausted. Often even the most feisty individual has been driven to exhaustion, physical, emotional and, of course, financial. Examples of broadly the same pattern of administrative abuse are to be found in a whole range of parastatals,” lamented Judge Kriegler [Paul Hoffman, Daily Maverick][ccx].



‘Counterfeet’ Union

In 2016, investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh reported in the City Press of a R114 million claim in the High Court by Thembi Maswabi against: Zuma; state security minister David Mahlobo; police minister Nathi Nhleko; defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; and, acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane[ccxi] [ccxii] [ccxiii].

Maswabi alleged that Zuma instructed him to form the new union, and that he received large amounts of government cash from intelligence agents for new offices and staff salaries

The civil suit related to costs for - amongst others things– the setting up of a bogus labour union in February 2014 with the assistance of SOU-linked spies[ccxiv].

The Workers Association Union (WAU) was allegedly created - under instruction from Zuma - with the centred purpose of disempowering Amcu (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) by drawing members away from it in the platinum mining sector – according to the founding member of WAU and court claimant, Maswabi[ccxv] (who says he now fears for his life. “If anything like being murdered or kidnapped happen to me the minister of State Security David Mahlobo and the President Jacob Zuma are involved,” said a desperate Maswabi [Daily Maverick][ccxvi]).

Minister of State Security David Mahlobo. Picture: GCIS
Minister of State Security David Mahlobo. Picture: GCIS

Maswabi alleged that Zuma instructed him to form the new union, and that he received large amounts of government cash from intelligence agents for new offices and staff salaries[ccxvii] [ccxviii]. Maswabi also said that he had “several meetings” with Zuma, including one in the United Kingdom [Myburgh and Tau, City Press][ccxix]. But then around January 2015 government funds dried up, leaving Maswabi in serious debt, and hence he had no choice by to institute a civil claim [Pieter-Louis Myburgh and Poloko Tau, City Press][ccxx] [ccxxi].

Two compelling links between intelligence agents and the formation of the WAU were established by the Rapport newspaper.

Firstly, a WAU’s cellphone contact number on the official labour department union registration document belongs to an SSA operative with links to the SOU, and is also the husband to Zuma’s special legal advisor[ccxxii] [ccxxiii].

Secondly, former WAU members provided Rapport with the cellphone number of the person who helped find new union offices, that number was traced to a former National Intelligence Agency (NIA) agent, Mthuzimele Peter Silenga [Rapport, sister newspaper of City Press] [ccxxiv].

Silenga’s boss was an SOU member and had three registered companies with one of Zuma’s wives in 2012[ccxxv] [ccxxvi].

Number One was behaving not like an elected President, but like a gangster
Zwelinzima Vavi

City Press reported in April 2016 (when the civil claim was first lodged) that according to court papers, Zuma and the other defendants indicated that they would oppose Maswabi’s civil claim[ccxxvii].

Former Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi - upon hearing of the allegations made against Zuma and his security cluster in the civil claim – had this to say, “… Number One was behaving not like an elected President, but like a gangster”[ccxxviii].

Vavi added that, “To wilfully plot and then implement moves deliberately designed to create division amongst workers are the actions of persons who not only undermine their oath of office, but who also undermine South African labour law, and the international conventions it has endorsed on the Freedom of Association and many other matters.” [ccxxix]


But the SSA-SOU may not have had just Amcu in their labour union crosshairs.

Near the end of 2014, a (bogus) document started doing the rounds, which was reputed to have been written by “concerned members within Numsa”[ccxxx] and entitled “Exposed: Secret Regime Change Plot to Distabilize (sic) South Africa”[ccxxxi].

(Accusations of ‘regime change by foreign forces’ is now a common refrain by the Zuma-camp, which is like wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing crying “wolf”.)

The document stated that Numsa (National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa) – a staunch critic of Zuma - was intent on destabilising the country through: violent means, political recruitment, collaboration with foreign governments and international companies, and by using socialist rhetoric and exploiting institutions of higher learning to confuse and indoctrinate communities[ccxxxii] [ccxxxiii].

The document implicated “rogue elements” within Numsa’s leadership (there’s that word again), such as the union’s general secretary Irvin Jim, as well as former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, Moeletsi Mbeki (brother of former president Thabo Mbeki), and university professors (including Professor Patrick Bond, whose offices were ransacked and his hard-drive stolen during this period[ccxxxiv]).

Numsa stated that the “sinister document” was an attempt to destroy their organisation, and that it had “all the hallmarks of documents that recently emanated from apparatuses and individuals linked to the State Security Agency (SSA)” [ccxxxv].

(Numsa also stated at the time that they had evidence and affidavits that SSA agents had been trying to recruit their shop stewards and activists in Ekurhuleni and the Eastern Cape[ccxxxvi].)

Motives of an elephant in a room

Getting back to the bogus union…

WAU founder, Maswabi, claimed that Zuma’s alleged motive behind setting up the bogus union was “to bring stability within the platinum belt for the interest of the national economy” - read Maswabi’s court papers[ccxxxvii].

A WAU banner is erected. Picture: SABC
A WAU banner is erected. Picture: SABC

If a court of law adjudges Maswabi’s claims as reliable, Zuma may have had another motive besides stability.

Zuma could have been motivated to use the services of the SSA-SOU to protect the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) – an alliance partner with the ANC – since an affiliate of the union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), had enjoyed a near monopoly in the mining sector until Amcu appeared on the mining scene[ccxxxviii].

As for Numsa, it was expelled from Cosatu after refusing to encourage its workers to vote for the ANC in the 2014 general elections[ccxxxix] - which could explain the campaign to discredit the organisation. 

If Zuma did indeed deploy SSA’s rogue SOU to do some platinum belt-tightening, he may have done so for a third and final reason, other than the “the interests of the national economy” or protecting an alliance partner. And this reason is closer to home. 

Westdawn Investments - trading as JIC Mining Services - made its biggest share of profits by doing business with South African platinum miners[ccxl]. In 2016, Fin24 reported that mining contributed 45% (R1.2 billion) to the company’s revenue[ccxli]. And as it happens, Zuma’s son Duduzane was a company director since 2008 until at least 2016, and holds a 10% ownership stake[ccxlii]. The majority shareholder of JIC Mining Services – you may have already guessed - is none other than the ubiquitous Guptas, who bought the company in 2006[ccxliii] [ccxliv].

(The City Press reported that from 2010 the company bankrolled the purchase of a R5.2 million house for Zuma’s then-fiancé and later wife, who at one time was also an employee of the company[ccxlv].)

In early 2016 when local banks closed Gupta accounts on suspicion of money-laundering activities[ccxlvi], South African platinum mining houses soon followed suit, cancelling or not renewing contracts with JIC Mining Services, as the company no longer had banking facilities [Fin24[ccxlvii]].

Spooky Marikana

The above Zuma-Gupta-platinum connection raises a question about the tragic events that occurred in 2012, two years prior to the establishment of the bogus union.

Did the SSA and state police act in the best interest of the country during the long and volatile Marikana miners’ strike of 2012? Or, did the security cluster act on behalf of Zuma to protect private financial interests of a few politically connected individuals, at the human cost of 34 massacred miners, 10 other deaths, and 78 wounded[ccxlviii] [ccxlix]?

According to investigative journalist Myburgh of News24, there remain serious disturbing questions around SSA’s role in the Marikana tragedy involving the Lonmin mining company[ccl] [ccli] [cclii] [ccliii] [ccliv].

Lonmin’s foremost representative during the Marikana strike, Barnard Mokwena, was widely condemned, including at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the massacre, as more details emerged of Mokwena’s actions in the lead up to the massacre[cclv].

Mokwena, who was Lonmin’s human resource head at the time of the protracted 2012 platinum strikes, took a severe stance towards the workers[cclvi].

Two days before the massacre, Mokwena encouraged police to take a hard line against the strikers and Amcu members, who he considered were the main culprits behind the strike[cclvii]. He also convinced his fellow Lonmin executives not to negotiate with the strikers, since as far as he was concerned they had rejected the NUM labour union (the Cosatu affiliate), and thus Lonmin could decide not to recognize the strike[cclviii]. Furthermore, he tried convincing the Lonmin executives to fire the mine workers and call in the police to deal with them[cclix].

You may be wondering how the SSA fits into all of this. That’s because the SSA operative is hiding in plain sight.

Myburgh said that Kazol Resources would later play a key role in a covert intelligence operation to establish a new labour union tasked with disempowering Amcu - namely the WAU

 In 2016, Myburgh reported in the City Press that Mokwena was a “deep cover” agent of the SSA[cclx]. Mokwena, though, strongly denied being a government intelligence operative, saying, “Never. Never, never, never. I am not, and I have never been, a secret source – not once in my career.”[cclxi] However, City Press reported that it had seen intelligence documents and correspondence confirming his appointment and payment by the SSA as a covert source or agent, including being listed in the SSA’s central source index as a paid “deep cover” agent from 2004 until at least the end of 2012[cclxii] [cclxiii].

One year after joining the SSA, Mokwena joined Lonmin’s executive team in 2005 (while one year later the Guptas bought JIC Mining Services[cclxiv] [cclxv]).

Myburgh wrote that there was no evidence that Mokwena’s behaviour towards Amcu, or any of the striking workers, during the Marikana strike was influenced by the SSA or any other government official [City Press][cclxvi].

But the intrigue involving Mokwena does not end here.

Myburgh reported that in 2013, a year after the Marikana massacre – while Mokwena was still working for Lonmin – he allegedly founded a private company Kazol Resources[cclxvii] [cclxviii].  Kazol had three directors, Mokwena, Silenga (mentioned above, who was a former NIA agent, and was said to helped the WAU secure offices in 2014)[cclxix], and Mokwena’s wife, Mandisa.

Myburgh said that Kazol Resources would later play a key role in a covert intelligence operation to establish a new labour union tasked with disempowering Amcu - namely the WAU[cclxx] [cclxxi].  

With the seeming link between platinum-Gutpas-(SSA)-(Mahlobo)-Zuma, the question arises as to whether Zuma acted in the best interests of the country - which in this case meant finding a peaceful and amicable solution to the strike for all parties concerned; or, he and operatives of his state security minister contributed to the deaths of 44 people and the wounding of 78 others, by expediting matters because close business associates and a family member were losing money.

If Zuma’s actions were motivated by personal expediency, then it was an unlawful act committed by a person who owes their allegiance to the state, but had the intention of violating, threatening or endangering the existence, independence or security of the Republic, and coerced the government by violence into acting - This is the part-definition by the South African Police Service for ‘High Treason’[cclxxii].

A feeble fable

Part of the lengthy charge sheet were allegations that Mandisa had ensured “in an illegal and corrupt” manner that tenders were given to – amongst others – her external examiner at Unisa

Remarkably, the intrigue involving Mokwena still does not end here. Except, the focus shifts from Barnard Mokwena to his wife, Mandisa, and the other Kazol Resources director, Silenga[cclxxiii] [cclxxiv].

Silenga and Mandisa used to work for… SARS, with Silenga in the segmentation and risk unit, while his boss, Mandisa, was the group executive head at SARS until 2009[cclxxv] [cclxxvi].

In 2010, Mandisa was arrested and charged, along with several others, with what would amount to 43 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering involving irregular contracts worth R11 million while she was an employee of SARS[cclxxvii] [cclxxviii] [cclxxix].

(Part of the lengthy charge sheet were allegations that Mandisa had ensured “in an illegal and corrupt” manner that tenders were given to – amongst others – her external examiner at Unisa, his wife and their companies in exchange to help with her doctorate from the University of Venda [Netwerk24][cclxxx] [cclxxxi].).

As some stage, one of Zuma’s wives registered three companies with Mandisa[cclxxxii] [cclxxxiii].

As Mandisa’s trial got underway in 2012 (and seemingly postponed to 2014[cclxxxiv]), she insisted as part of her defence that a “rogue unit” existed in SARS and that she had been “set up” by Johann van Loggerenberg who she said was intent on destroying her career [Daily Maverick][cclxxxv].

(When the wife of Zuma who was doing business with Mandisa was alerted to the 2012 court case, she severed their business relationship, and has not been implicated in any of the offences, and denied knowing about the charges[cclxxxvi] [cclxxxvii] . Meanwhile, Marianne Thamm in the Daily Maverick reported in June 2016 that the case against Mandisa was still ongoing[cclxxxviii].)

In 2014, despite Mandisa still facing criminal charges, she was appointed as the head of economic intelligence as part of special operations of the SSA

But Mandisa was not being original in her claims of a SARS “rogue unit”.

Michael Peega – the then SARS official and NRG member - had been arrested for rhino poaching while on leave in December 2008[cclxxxix] [ccxc] [ccxci]. Released on bail he returned to SARS only to face a disciplinary hearing and was dismissed six months later[ccxcii] [ccxciii]. In February 2010 Peega drew up a so-called “Intelligence dossier” which former SARS spokesperson Lackay said had contained allegations of a SARS “rogue unit” that had “infiltrated Friends of Zuma” and “illegally intercepted communications”[ccxciv] [ccxcv] [ccxcvi]. According to Lackay, “SARS had submitted a line-by-line refutation of this ‘dossier’ at the time to the SSA, SAPS; the President of South Africa and various media outlets over the period.”[ccxcvii] The M&G described Peega as “rather easy to discredit”[ccxcviii].

In 2011 the court dockets against Peega for rhino poaching disappeared[ccxcix].

 (See Daily Maverick for a copy of minutes of a SARS and SSA meeting in 2010 on the “Intelligence Dossier” and the NRG here).

In 2014, despite Mandisa still facing criminal charges, she was appointed as the head of economic intelligence as part of special operations of the SSA [City Press], in other words, she was recruited as an SOU member[ccc].

To summarize: in 2010 the (refuted) narrative of a SARS “rogue unit” began with Peega, and then repeated by SOU agent Mandisa in 2012, both of whom had an unsavoury axe to grind against SARS. They were then joined in 2014 by another SARS axe-grinder, none other than the SSA operative Belinda Walter[ccci] [cccii] [ccciii]. Lackay said he believed that it was no coincidence that Walter and Peega “collaborated” in a TV broadcast on Carte Blanche on 22 February 2015 about the alleged “SARS rogue unit” and allegations against SARS, Van Loggerernberg and others[ccciv].

Following a series of (later discredited) stories on the SARS “rogue unit” by the Sunday Times, based on Walter’s unsubstantiated allegations[cccv] [cccvi] [cccvii], Tom Moyane - a Zuma lackey - lodged a complaint with the Hawks, headed by Berning Ntlemeza - another Zuma lackey,[cccviii].

We have now come full circle.

As we have seen, the SARS “rogue unit” narrative would eventually be discredited[cccix]. But in the interim it resulted in the forced resignation of Van Loggerenberg by his nemeses: Peega, SOU-Mandisa , SSA-Walter, some state officials who were part of the illicit-Tobacco Task Team, private business interests, and Zuma lackeys[cccx] [cccxi] [cccxii] [cccxiii].

Van Loggerenberg would later say that when they started to focus on tobacco smuggling that, “It was then that we realised we had come up against the interests of people with more influence and power than we could dream of in our wildest dreams.” [City Press][cccxiv]

The false “rogue” narrative also caused the disbanding of the SARS anti-corruption and safety unit (Acas) that investigated Mandisa[cccxv], and the purging of the tax collector’s top investigators and senior executives[cccxvi] [cccxvii].

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: GCIS

And even up to the present day, the SARS “rogue unit” narrative is still being used, as a pretext by the Hawk’s boss Ntlemeza to try unseat Gordhan from Treasury, on the basis that the fabled SARS “rogue unit” was set up in 2007 during Gordhan’s tenure as SARS commissioner[cccxviii] [cccxix].

On the 28th of August 2016, Abram Mashego reported in the City Press that the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams was preparing to personally manage the case against Gordhan for corruption in granting Ivan Pillay early retirement, while Van Loggerenberg, Pillay, and Oupa Magashula were to be charged with fraud, as well as spying in relation the SARS “rogue unit” [cccxx]. Three days earlier, the Hawks had concluded its investigation and handed the docket to Abrahams[cccxxi].

In total, thirty witnesses were lined up to testify against Gordhan and the other three[cccxxii]. One of those witnesses was Khulubuse’s business partner, Hulley’s client, and Jacob Zuma’s friend, none other than Huang [City Press] [cccxxiii]. According to a Hawks official close to the investigation, Huang complained that the NRG had targeted him and were spying on him[cccxxiv]. Furthermore, Huang told Tom Moyane that the NRG spied on him and wanted to take him out of business [City Press][cccxxv].

The case against Gordhan and the others ultimately did not materialise (as at January 2017), because Abrahams got cold feet, much to the fury of Ntlemeza[cccxxvi].

Constitutional law expert, Pierre de Vos, wrote in March 2016, that, “When… head of the Hawks, Berning Ntlemeza, confirmed that the Hawks are investigating the ‘illegal operation’ of the ‘rogue spy unit’ within SARS he did not refer to the specific crimes being investigated, nor to the specific sections of the relevant legislation which supposedly created criminal offences allegedly breached by SARS officials when it created the unit.” De Vos thus concluded, "In the absence of a credible explanation (and in the light of the findings of dishonesty on the part of the Hawks head who also happens to be an apartheid cop) serious questions arise about the credibility as well as about the legality of the Hawks investigation.”[cccxxvii]

In November 2016, the Auditor-General said he found nothing improper or illegal about the NRG (erroneously publicised as the “rogue unit”)[cccxxviii]. "During our audits there were no findings we raised which cast doubt on the appropriateness or otherwise at any of the operating units in the SARS tax administration system." [Business Day][cccxxix]

“The Sars ‘rogue unit’ myth has now largely been dispelled, but the real rogues at the SSA are still running loose,” Myburgh warned in December 2016 [News24][cccxxx].


Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: GCIS
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: GCIS

On the 6th of September 2016, during interviews in parliament for the position of public protector, the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced that they had reliable information from various sources that Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who was expected to be nominated for the position the following day, was on the payroll of the SSA while working as an immigration officer in the South African embassy in China (2010 - 2014)[cccxxxi] [cccxxxii].

DA’s shadow minister of justice Glynnis Breytenback asked Mkhwebane to tell South Africans what the extent of her connection to the spy agencies was, and to possibly stand down from the position [Times Live][cccxxxiii] [cccxxxiv].

Mkhwebane firmly denied that she had been a South African spy working for the SSA while in China[cccxxxv]. She said, “I never worked for SSA. I only joined the SSA on July 4 2016."[cccxxxvi]

In which case, nine days after applications for the position of public protector closed, Mkhwebane began her new job as an “analyst” at the SSA[cccxxxvii]. Frans Viljoen (director of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria) found Mkhwebane had made a “curious career trajectory”, as the SSA position represented a significant demotion for Mkhwebane in stature and status, and shift in focus[cccxxxviii].

Despite misgivings by committee members, Mkhwebane was selected as the next public protector[cccxxxix].  The DA, however, declined to support Mkhwebane due to her work with the SSA[cccxl]. “The public protector cannot be seen to be even remotely connected to the SSA,” Breytenbach said, and considering that Breytenbach was hounded out of the NPA by the SSA’s rogue Special Operations Unit – as reported by Jacques Pauw of the City Press - she speaks from experience[cccxli] [cccxlii] [cccxliii] [cccxliv].

After Mkhwebane had worked just three months and thirteen days at the SSA as a lowly “analyst”, she reported for duty as the new public protector[cccxlv].

Based on information which opposition party members had received, Mkhwebane may have been Zuma’s preferred candidate[cccxlvi].

“The trick is this: keep your eye on the ball. Even when you can’t see the ball” – Tom Robbins, author[cccxlvii].

Ramaphosa setup to fall?

In regards to deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s involvement in the Marikana massacre, Marianne Thamm of the Daily Maverick wrote that, “While the Farlam Commission of Inquiry found that no member of the executive could be blamed for the killings of the miners, it was Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a director and shareholder at Lonmin, who was ultimately fingered for the police response.”

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

The Mail and Guardian noted that Ramaphosa also faces a civil claim from injured and arrested Marikana miners, who want him to apologise to and compensate all those who were affected.

In addition, opposition parties – in particular, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – continue to blame Ramaphosa for the Marikana tragedy [M&G][cccxlviii].

In light of the possible Zuma-Mahlobo-SSA involvement in the Marikana tragedy, Thamm wrote that “it would be natural to ask whether the deputy president was set up? Did shadowy forces cash in on a convergence of chaotic currents that swirled around the prolonged platinum belt strikes in 2012 and use these for their own ends, to discredit Cyril Ramaphosa, thus tarnishing his possible presidency?”

In answering her own question, Thamm said wearily, “Nothing is impossible in these days of treachery and treason.”[cccxlix]

[ccxiv] and
[ccxv] and
[cclxxi] and

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