Sunday Times

SARS chief acts on ‘brothel’ claim

Sun­day Times’ dis­clo­sures of ’rogue’ spy unit un­leash a storm as top sleuth is sus­pended

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has re­vealed some of the per­son­al­i­ties be­hind the homes ogled by hol­i­day­mak­ers in the city.

Us­ing pub­lic records, the Sun­day Times traced sev­eral of th­ese high-fly­ing lo­cal and for­eign buy­ers.

A large and highly soughtafte­r plot over­look­ing Clifton was ac­quired by an ob­scure for­eign buyer this year for R70mil­lion. South African-born Clive Calder emerged this week as one of the for­eign in­vestors be­hind the deal.

Calder, a for­mer teenage bass gui­tarist from Joburg, is a record la­bel ty­coon who signed up artists in­clud­ing Brit­ney Spears and the Back­street Boys be­fore sell­ing his business in 2002 for $2.7-bil­lion.

Nowa­days, the phi­lan­thropist closely guards his pri­vacy and lives on the Cay­man Is­lands, where he is an in­vestor in Taupo Hold­ings, the company that shelled out R70-mil­lion for a sliver of moun­tain.

Taupo’s in­vest­ment and real es­tate ad­viser, Rami Harawi, speak­ing from La­gos, Nige­ria, said: “They invest in real es­tate glob­ally, mainly in Africa and In­dia.”

He said two vil­las on the site would be de­mol­ished and re­placed with 14 lux­ury apart­ments in a project fea­tur­ing ar­chi­tect Ste­fan An­toni. They will go on the mar­ket in early 2017.

Cash deals are not un­com­mon at the up­per end of the city’s prop­erty mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly on the At­lantic seaboard.

Do­gon Group Prop­er­ties CEO Denise Do­gon said: “Af­flu­ent buy­ers have a pri­vate banker. They use the best source of fund­ing, some­times cash or another as­set as col­lat­eral.”

Do­gon sold a Bantry Bay house two weeks ago for R48-mil­lion in cash. She de­clined to name the buyer.

A trawl through prop­erty sales records shows other re­cent cash buy­ers to be:

UK en­tre­pre­neur John Laith­waite, who made a for­tune sup­ply­ing laun­dry equip­ment to hos­pi­tals, prisons and ho­tels. He snapped up a three-bed­room apart­ment at the Water­front for R23.9-mil­lion — R93 882 per square me­tre;

Nige­rian mar­itime and an­tipiracy spe­cial­ist Garth Doo­ley, who paid R26.7-mil­lion, al- most R100 000/m², for an apart­ment in the ex­clu­sive Eventide block carved into a cliff at Clifton. The sub­urb’s park­ing short­age does not per­turb res­i­dents; they drive onto the roof and are low­ered by a car lift to their front door; and

The Stephen Saad In­vest­ment Trust, which paid R38.5mil­lion in March for an apart­ment within strolling dis­tance of restau­rants and shops at the Water­front.

Do­gon said most of the buy­ers were lo­cal.

“Even if they live abroad, many are ex-South Africans or have a business here. Nine­ty­nine per­cent have a con­nec­tion to South Africa.”

Lo­cal cash buy­ers over the past few months have in­cluded for­mer Rand Mer­chant Bank chief in­vest­ment of­fi­cer Derek Prout-Jones, ad­ver­tis­ing ex­ec­u­tive Greg Be­natar and in­vest­ment ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Peile.

Top­ping the list for the most ex­pen­sive flut­ter on the prop­erty mar­ket is Mac­steel founder Eric Sam­son, who re­port­edly paid R198-mil­lion for a six-bed­room apart­ment at The Clifton. SOUTH African Rev­enue Ser­vice com­mis­sioner Tom Moy­ane is mov­ing to defuse a cri­sis sparked by rev­e­la­tions of a rogue in­tel­li­gence unit in his or­gan­i­sa­tion.

This week, Moy­ane sus­pended the rev­enue agency’s in­ves­ti­ga­tor, Jo­hann van Log­geren­berg, for his role in the unit.

Ac­cord­ing to a cir­cu­lar and two se­nior SARS of­fi­cials, the com­mis­sioner also side­lined SARS’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (exco), say­ing he had lost con­fi­dence in its mem­bers. The exco in­cluded deputy com­mis­sioner Ivan Pil­lay and chief of­fi­cer for strat­egy Pete Richer, who set up the unit in 2006.

The Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Health and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union, which rep­re­sents some of the SARS work­ers, de­manded the sus­pen­sion or axing of em­ploy­ees and of­fi­cials im­pli­cated in the rogue unit’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Sun­day Times re­ported last week that mem­bers of the unit ran a brothel, held meet­ings in a Pre­to­ria NG church and posed as body­guards for ANC lead­ers.

The unit, known as the Na­tional Re­search Group, spied on for­mer po­lice com­mis­sioner Jackie Selebi; ac­cessed the po­lice data­base with­out au­thor­ity; sup­plied its mem­bers with fake IDs; and fought pri­vate bat­tles on be­half of friends and rel­a­tives of se­nior SARS of­fi­cials.

Van Log­geren­berg has de­nied all al­le­ga­tions against him. He said the unit op­er­ated openly and within the law.

He ad­mit­ted to fol­low­ing for­mer SARS gen­eral man­ager Leonard Radebe, but de­nied bug­ging Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s home in Jo­han­nes­burg. He said he would sub­mit to a lie de­tec­tor test.

Ac­cord­ing to a no­tice of sus­pen­sion seen by Sun­day Times re­porters, Van Log­geren­berg was sus­pended to “pro­vide for full in­ves­ti­ga­tions into al­le­ga­tions against you of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, mis­con­duct and bring­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s name and rep­u­ta­tion into dis­re­pute”.

Ac­cord­ing to se­nior SARS of­fi­cials who at­tended Moy­ane’s “com­pul­sory” meet­ing on Mon­day, the com­mis­sioner gave them a dress­ing-down.

“He did not take ques­tions. He said it was dis­gust­ing that SARS was now run­ning broth­els,” said a SARS of­fi­cial. Another said Moy­ane promised to ap­point his own team be­cause the exco suf­fered from “anal­y­sis paral­y­sis”.

Van Log­geren­berg re­ferred in­quiries to SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay, who re­fused to con­firm or deny the sus­pen­sion.

Lackay re­fused to say what pos­si­ble sanc­tions Van Log­geren­berg faced if found guilty.

He said Moy­ane sus­pended the exco “as an ad­vi­sory body to the com­mis­sioner”, but de­nied that the com­mis­sioner had lost con­fi­dence in it.

He said it was dis­gust­ing that SARS was now run­ning broth­els

The Sun­day Times pre­vi­ously re­ported that a for­mer Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Agency oper­a­tive known as “Skol­lie” black­mailed SARS into pay­ing him more than R3-mil­lion for his si­lence after he threat­ened to go pub­lic about the rogue unit’s ac­tions.

They in­cluded break­ing into Zuma’s home, fol­low­ing politi­cians — among them Sports Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula and Julius Malema — and in­ter­cept­ing a meet­ing be­tween Zuma and Radebe.

In­ter­nal SARS memos also showed the unit was “tasked” with fol­low­ing three se­nior of­fi­cials — Radebe, Man­disa Mokoena and Nandi Madiba.

Van Log­geren­berg threat­ened to take ac­tion against the Sun­day Times.

This came amid claims by SARS sources that the le­gal bill re­lat­ing to his mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions was R700 000.

The bill al­legedly in­cluded fees paid to a PR company that rep­re­sented him, as well as lawyers’ bills for let­ters of de­mand sent to news­pa­pers that re­ported on the scan­dal.

Asked whether SARS was still pay­ing for Van Log­geren­berg’s le­gal bill, whether it cov­ered lawyers’ let­ters sent to jour­nal­ists and whether the bill had ex­ceeded R700 000, Lackay said: “Mr Jo­hann van Log­geren­berg is a SARS em­ployee and by law en­joys rights to his pri­vacy and to con­fi­den­tial­ity.”

In a let­ter from his lawyers dated Novem­ber 13, a day after the date of his sus­pen­sion, he threat­ened to lay crim­i­nal com­plaints against the Sun­day Times, to in­sti­tute pro­ceed­ings against the news­pa­per and to file a com­plaint with the Press Om­buds­man.

Van Log­geren­berg also de­manded an apol­ogy and a re­trac­tion of the state­ment pub­lished in the news­pa­per last week that he had writ­ten a “con­fes­sion” to Moy­ane.

The Sun­day Times in­vited Van Log­geren­berg to pro­vide his state­ment and the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer’s con­tact de­tails, should he lay crim­i­nal com­plaints.

“He has been in­vited to de­liver a sum­mons to our at­tor­neys,” said Sun­day Times ed­i­tor Phyli­cia Op­pelt. “We are more than will­ing to de­fend our story in any fo­rum he chooses.”

Van Log­geren­berg has been sus­pended for 30 work­ing days “pend­ing the out­come of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and/or sub­se­quent dis­ci­plinary hear­ing”.

He was also or­dered to sur­ren­der his ac­cess card and other company prop­erty and barred from vis­it­ing any SARS premises with­out writ­ten per­mis­sion.

Van Log­geren­berg re­quested that Sun­day Time s publish his full let­ter writ­ten to Moy­ane last month. To read it, visit www.sun­daytimes.co.za.

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