The above podcast contains the extensive, full-length interview which will be published on the Moneyweb website.
SIKI MGABADELI: News reports of allegations of severe misconduct at Sars have dominated our discourse over the past year or so. The allegations included there being a rogue unit operating within Sars, which even allegedly ran a brothel. It all culminated in reports of the possible imminent arrest of Minister of Finance. Now two ex-employees of Sars have written a book called Rogue: The Inside Story of Sars’s Elite Crime-busting Unit. Moneyweb editor Ryk van Niekerk spoke to the authors, Johann van Loggerenberg and Adrian Lackay.
Ryk began by saying to Adrian that if only 20% of what he’s written in the book is true, then South Africa is in deep trouble.
ADRIAN LACKEY: We thought that we should take the opportunity given to us by the publishers to put certain facts in the form of this book to the public, to taxpayers in this country, and really to explain to people that since around October 2014 when Tom Moyane became commissioner of Sars, specific events unfolded. Many people lost their jobs in the process, many people’s reputations were severely tarnished, many people were hounded out of the institution and many people – or some of them – today face the real prospect of criminal charges by the Hawks. And all of this was based on a story line that was advanced in some media of a supposed rogue illegal unit that operated within Sars, that spied on the President, that ran brothels, that was funded by slush funds. And multiple investigations then followed these headlines.
Of course, what we argue here is that those people mostly affected, like Johann van Loggerenberg as the head of investigations, and Ivan Pillay, the deputy commissioner at Sars, were never given a proper opportunity to answer the charges against them, to defend themselves publicly and to inform the public this is what’s happening to your institution, this very vital fiscal institution.
So we tried to be as factual as possible. I hope more than 20% of the content can be substantiated or comes across to the reader as based on fact. That is the story that we wanted to put into the public domain.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: Let’s talk about Tom Moyane, He is a key individual in the story. He is also currently involved in a fight with Pravin Gordhan, the current minister of finance, and a commissioner at the revenue service when this rogue unit was supposedly set up. Johann, you make several insinuations that he or somebody close to him may have leaked sensitive information to, among others, the Sunday Times. What role did he play?
JOHANN VAN LOGGERENBERG: I’ve been asked this question before. When I left Sars I shook hands with Mr Moyane as a gentleman, and I walked out of the door – and I don’t think I’d like to say anything beyond what I’ve said in the book, with respect to Mr Moyane.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: But the allegations you make in the book are extremely serious, and it suggests improper conduct at the highest level at Sars, and it begs the obvious question: Has Sars been captured?
JOHANN VAN LOGGERENBERG: Well, let me say this to you, Ryk. Last week and this week I noted certain public statements by the South African Revenue Service with respect to media publications that are perceived to reflect negatively on Sars. And a lot of efforts and lot of time appear to be put into trying to dispel and deal with this perceived negative publicity.
One has to question why over 30 articles over two calendar years that attacked the essence of the revenue service, which was known for its efficiency, which was known as an upstanding state institution that people were proud of – not once was any effort made whatsoever to (a) deal with the salacious content of the allegations that were stated as if fact, which we now know were not fact, and (b) determine who were the people behind those leaks and pushing the narrative. It’s a big question mark. I can’t answer that, but it’s certainly something that I do believe needs to be looked into, and that question needs to be posed.
RYK VAN NIEKERK: Johann van Loggerenberg and Adrian Lackay were speaking to Ryk van Niekerk, the editor of Moneyweb.