Cops leave informer to rot in jail
Officer accused of not filling in form
AREGISTERED police informer has been languishing in a derelict prison for over three years despite allegedly helping the SAPS bring down a notorious car thief and a house-breaking gang.
A furious Johann Harhoff has accused the police of endangering his life by leaving him at the mercy of criminals behind bars in a Potchefstroom prison.
SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said yesterday that he would investigate the circumstances of the “informer”, but cautioned that police “never discuss informers in the public domain”.
“I will never comment on an informer, because we might end up being sued,” said Naidoo.
He also referred further queries to the Hawks because the commercial crimes unit falls under the agency.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Carol Mulamu promised to investigate Harhoff’s claims as of today.
Harhoff claims he became a police informer in 2011 when he offered to help Pretoria-based Sergeant Susara Johanna Lourens recover stolen vehicles from a suspected “syndicate leader” who later faced a five-year trial.
Harhoff claims the syndicate would allegedly hire vehicles from car rental companies and fraudulently sell them to unsuspecting buyers.
“I knew him (syndicate leader) personally and what he was involved in. I assisted the police to get all the vehicles back,” he explained.
Lourens, in a sworn affidavit written in Afrikaans and seen by The Star, confirmed that Harhoff was a police informant whom she registered with an attendant agent number CCU038.
She also stated in her investigation diary, also seen by The Star, that the suspect hired “vehicles from Avis and Budget and sells vehicles to people. He (suspect) hired a Mr Berg to remove the trackers (devices) out of the vehicles. Various witness statements (were) obtained and filed in (the) case docket.” This entry was logged in July 2011. Lourens also detailed in her investigation diary how Harhoff helped her and that the police set a trap for the suspect. She wrote in her affidavit that stolen vehicles worth roughly “R4.5 million” were recovered through the police’s collaboration with Harhoff.
Harhoff this week said: “I organised for him (suspect) to come to my house and the police were waiting there for him. And when he entered my yard, I closed the gate and the police arrested him.”
But he said things turned sour for him in 2014 after alerting his police handler to new information about a housebreaking gang, which was operating in the Joburg area.
“I was arrested during a botched housebreaking in Ventersdorp in June 2014, with the alleged ring leader of this gang.”
Harhoff said he was in Ventersdorp to meet the housebreaking ring leader to get more information as an undercover informant when the police arrested him.
Lourens again confirmed in her affidavit that Harhoff had informed her of the alleged house-breakings in Joburg, “and that he was in the process of getting more information from a man by the name of Kallie”.
Lourens added that she mentioned this to a Brigadier C Jonker, where the case was to be transferred to the Organised Crime Unit and Harhoff would have to complete an Art252a form that guarantees him immunity from arrest for police informers.
“However, before the meeting could take place, Mr Harhoff was arrested and, according to the investigating officer Stefan Coetzee of Ventersdorp, he was involved in a criminal act,” Lourens wrote.
But Harhoff is adamant that Lourens did not complete the Art252a and he has been locked up as result of that negligence.
THREE YEARS LATER: A furious Johann Harhoff is accusing the police of endangering his life by leaving him at the mercy of criminals in a Potchefstroom prison.
INHUMANE: These photos show the shocking conditions Harhoff has had to endure while in a Potchefstroom prison.