Hawks ditch informer after media reports
THE HAWKS yesterday confirmed that the prisoner alleged to have been left to languish in a derelict Potchefstroom prison is indeed an informer for the unit.
However, Hawks spokesperson Captain Carol Mulamu hastened to add that Johann Harhoff, pictured, the informant in question, will be de-registered as an agent due to the “security risk” brought about by the exposé of his plight in the media.
Mulamu added that the reasons for Harhoff being arrested in Ventersdorp in June 2014 “were not recognised” by the crime fighting unit, which is why the Hawks could not intervene in his matter.
Yesterday, The Star reported that a furious Harhoff was accusing the police of putting his life in danger by leaving him at the mercy of criminals behind bars for more than three years.
This was despite him assisting law enforcement agencies to bring down a notorious car thief and a house-breaking gang.
Harhoff helped the Commercial Crimes Unit, which now falls under the Hawks, in 2011 to recover vehicles valued at more than R4 million through critical intelligence that he provided.
He was also central to an elaborate sting operation that apprehended the chief perpetrator.
These cars were returned to car rental companies Budget and Avis, companies that were the worst affected by the criminal activities that occurred in and around Tshwane.
Yesterday, Mulamu acknowledged what she called a “very good” and “successful” relationship that Harhoff had with his handler, Warrant Officer Susara Lourens. She said this relationship would be terminated. “Remember, we didn’t expose him – he approached you on his own. Now the Hawks’ and his security have been compromised. This is why he has to be deregistered because we cannot be working with a person like him,” said Mulamu.
Harhoff added that he was arrested while with a man by the name of Kallie during a botched house-breaking. Although Warrant Officer Lourens conceded in a sworn affidavit that Harhoff was gathering intelligence on Kallie, views which were echoed by Mulamu yesterday, the Hawks maintain that Harhoff’s trip to Ventersdorp was not sanctioned.
“On June 4, 2014, when I was arrested in Ventersdorp, I assisted the police the following day to go and arrest Kallie in Midrand,” he told The Star.
He claims Lourens did not complete the section 252A that guarantees immunity from arrest for informers.
Mulamu countered by saying Lourens did not have to complete the section 252A as the “operation” Harhoff was busy with was not recognised by his handler’s office.
“According to Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, section 252A states that one can participate in crime with the legal authorities and permission granted by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) excluding violent crimes such as murder, robberies (and) hijacking-related crime.”
Mulamu was non-committal on whether the Hawks would visit Harhoff, saying they were waiting for his court case to be concluded before making a decision.