Just hours after I had mailed a six-page letter to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane confronting her about manipulating evidence in her SARS rogue unit report, an email from the Sunday Independent landed in my inbox.
A story that I had swayed then City Press editor Ferial Haffajee not to publish, a SARS rogue unit report, in November 2014 has been circulating on Twitter for months and was published in the magazine Noseweek.
Why did the Sunday Independent decide to suddenly rehash old and dated allegations?
Is it a coincidence that they decided to do so at the same time that my story about Mkhwebane’s lies is published in the Sunday Times?
Of course not.
I am not a conspiracy theorist but am convinced that this was the State Capture fightback cabal doing damage control.
Somewhere from the innards of the Public Protector’s office, a message was conveyed to their stooges at Sunday Independent.
This newspaper and Noseweek have long been their favoured publications for attacking Pravin Gordhan, Ivan Pillay, Johann van Loggerenberg and others that opposed and battled State Capture.
I have before been the victim of the ludicrous rubbish that the Sunday Independent is dishing up in defence of the likes of Jacob Zuma, Tom Moyane and those that brought South Africa to the brink of becoming a gangster state.
At the end of 2017, just after the publishing of my book, The President’s Keepers, the then editor of the Sunday Independent, Steve Motale, wrote a front-page exposé that I wasn’t really the author of my book.
That honour, he fibbed, belong to Cyril Ramaphosa, Gordhan and Pillay. I was allegedly paid millions by “white monopoly capital” in Stellenbosch to publish it under my name.
It didn’t help that I told them that I had never met Ramaphosa and only once spoke briefly to Gordhan and Pillay – after the publication of my book.
Noseweek, owned by veteran journalist Martin Welz, has since the middle of 2018 relentlessly attacked Gordhan, Pillay and Van Loggerenberg and propagated the SARS “rogue unit” narrative.
In the process, Welz, whose magazine in the 1990s gave ample space and prominence to Aids denialists, has delved into my alleged cosy relationship with Van Loggerenberg.
In the process, he has published private e-mails and has called me a liar – without ever asking me for comment.
It is significant that Sunday Independent and Noseweek are among the only news publications and broadcasters in South Africa that do not subscribe to the Press Code that demands truthful, fair and objective reporting.
You can, therefore, not bring them to account at the Press Council that entertains complaints from clients, can hold hearings to establish the facts and force publications to apologise.
Noseweek, furthermore, carries an absurd disclaimer in the magazine that although Welz takes “every reasonable effort” to ensure the “soundness and accuracy” of the content, “neither the authors nor the publisher will bear any responsibility for the consequences of any actions based on information contained”.
Ever heard of an editor that doesn’t stand father for the content of his publication?
In yet another attack on me in February 2019, Welz quoted from a 2014 report from the Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI) that I was an “information peddler”.
The IGI investigated an August 2014 story that I wrote in City Press that rogue agents of the special operations unit of the State Security Agency (SSA) were waging a dirty tricks campaign against SARS and were intent on removing the likes of Pillay, Van Loggerenberg and other top executives. She found it was untrue.
Welz didn’t ask me for comment. If he had, I would have told him that I didn’t testify before the IGI. Only SSA officials did, and of course, one after the other denied the agency’s involvement in dirty tricks.
I would also have told him that my story was almost prophetic because just two months later, Moyane became the commissioner of SARS and shortly afterwards, Pillay, Van Loggerenberg and a host of top and skilled executives and managers were gone.
I would have referred him to The President’s Keepers where I produce ample evidence of the SSA’s dirty tricks against SARS.
I would have told Welz that I have eyewitness accounts and statements, records of SSA agents who confessed to this, briefing documents to Zuma, emails shared between SSA agents and their bosses which showed how they were spying on and running operations intended to discredit certain political figures, the Hawks, Cato Manor Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, the former prosecutor advocate Glynis Breytenbach and former Hawks General Anwa Dramat. I can provide records of discussions between agents to remove the leadership of SARS and the minister of finance.
As it turns out, the recently published Mufamadi Panel Report on the SSA states in no uncertain terms how unholy the Special Operations Unit at the SSA was and lists various illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional acts on the part of its agents. Its former head was severely criticised for being the most recalcitrant witness before the panel. This report also states clearly how the media was influenced and infiltrated by the SSA to advance certain nefarious agendas.
Even the former DG of the SSA, Arthur Fraser, said in his response to the report that SARS was the target of coordinated intelligence operations aimed at derailing investigations at the service.
I expect that Welz’s exposé of the IGI’s report will soon be rehashed in the Sunday Independent. In fact, they already asked me over the weekend what proof I had about the SSA’s involvement in the destruction of SARS.
Untested allegations made by EFF leaders are re-circulated to Noseweek and Sunday Independent. In turn, Sunday Independent and Independent Online (IOL) quote Noseweek as a source.
Their rogue unit allegations and exposés are in turn circulated by the EFF and their trolls and devotees on Twitter and Facebook.
Here is an example: In October 2018, EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu posted a “polemical piece” on his blog that Pravin Gordhan has constituted a parallel state for himself and employs “a combination of narcissism, self-righteousness, manipulation and threats to domesticate African comrades and achieve his selfish ends”.
He implicates former SARS executives Ivan Pillay and “Johan Loggerenberg” (sic) in Gordhan’s “cabal” and says the “rogue unit” still exists.
Shivambu says that the “rogue unit” exists in the form of of a Johannesburg-based forensic investigation company called Basileus Consilium Professional Services (BCPS).
He claimed that BCPS was irregularly appointed by Werksmans Attorneys in the Prasa investigations, that they possess sophisticated intelligence systems and “followed individuals to their homes in the name of investigating irregular expenditure in Prasa”.
Shivambu said that Warren Goldblatt, who controls BCPS, is currently conducting forensic investigations into Transnet and was irregularly appointed under the chairmanship of Popo Molefe chairperson of the state-owned company.
He claimed that one of the “modus operandi” of the cabal was to take control of certain sections of the media. He said Daily Maverick was one of the platforms the cabal uses to publish so-called investigative reports, which are nothing but concocted lies gained through illegal means and presented as fact.
IOL published Shivambu’s rant unchanged.
In April 2019, Noseweek published a story under the headline “Rogue unit skills for sale” and linked Pillay and van Loggerenberg to BCPS and the “notorious” Goldblatt.
Noseweek quotes former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana – who has been deeply implicated in fraud, corruption and state capture – that Pillay and “some former members of the SARS rogue unit” had on behalf of BCPS conducted illegal intelligence operations against him.
Noseweek called it an “extraordinary statement” but then quotes Shivambu: “Goldblatt, who regularly meets with Pravin Gordhan and always engages in forensic business dealings with Ivan Pillay and Johann van Loggerenberg. Ivan Pillay and Van Loggerenberg own a company called Ukhozi Forensics, which works with BCPS on a sub-contracted basis, and has illegal intelligence capacity and methods.”
Noseweek followed this with an “exposé” in June with the headline, “Is Pravin Gordhan secretly controlling State Capture probes?”
Welz announced: “Today, Noseweek can report that Yolisa Pikie (former SARS executive) is back with his old boss Pillay and SARS’s former rogue unit leader Johann van Loggerenberg, the three of them discreetly commissioning and controlling private-sector forensic investigations into corruption and State Capture at state-owned enterprises (SOEs).”
The article said that Pillay, Van Loggerenberg and Pikie can be found at the offices of BCPS in Rivonia in Johannesburg.
Said Noseweek, quoting a “source”: “When last I was there, Van Loggerenberg was working behind a computer in an office next to the boardroom. Pikie is there too, he’s one of the key role-players in Ukhozi.”
In the story, Noseweek labelled me as Van Loggerenberg’s “media corroborator” and that I had been “mobilised” to spike stories at City Press that exposed the “rogue unit”.
Needless to say that Welz didn’t ask Gordhan, Pillay, Van Loggerenberg or me for comment.
Welz doesn’t provide a shred of evidence that Gordhan controls the State Capture Commission, but it didn’t matter because his articles are paraded by Shivambu and his Veuve Clicquot consorts as gospel truth.
Noseweek and the Sunday Independent’s stories are circulated in publications like former New Age journalist and Zupta ace Pinky Khoabane’s Uncensored Opinion.
Disgraced former Sunday Times journalist and one of the authors of the newspaper’s “rogue unit” reports, Piet Rampedi, was recently appointed as the investigation editor of IOL. The Sunday Times later withdrew the stories and apologised.
On Sunday, Rampedi rehashed Noseweek’s story and asked on their front page: “Did Pauw tell City Press not to run with rogue unit stories”?
Any journalist knows that when you put a question mark to a story you don’t have a clue if it is true or not. After I had left City Press in 2014, former SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay asked me to warn then editor Ferial Haffajee that one of her journalists had received a SARS “rogue unit” dossier.
At the time, several false “dossiers” were being peddled to journalists as part of the campaign to remove Pillay, Van Loggerenberg and other executives and replace them with Moyane, Jonas Makwakwa and their cronies.
In the e-mail, I warned Haffajee to be careful. Nothing more than that. She said that my e-mail had not influenced her and that City Press didn’t publish the dossier because she had refused to give in to the “disinformation merchants”.
She said her newsroom could make a distinction between being fed “bullshit” and doing the work of journalism.
It didn’t matter that it was a non-story because my report in the Sunday Times that Mkhwebane had lied when she described a law interpreter at SARS as a specialist agent in the “rogue unit” had to be countered.
On Sunday, the EEF described me as a “discredited, conflicted individual” and labelled the report in the Sunday Times as “false, biased and evidently propagandistic”.
Their supporters said on Twitter I must “voertsek”, “go to hell” and “die”.
Rampedi labelled me on Sunday as “cabal” member number 27, “one of the “trusted foot soldiers” that are in defence of Pravin Gordhan and his henchmen.
He said I had written in The President’s Keepers that the Guptas had funded his paper without providing proof, which is not true.
Rampedi, the EFF and the Public Protector spoke like one voice on Sunday, united in their hatred and abhorrence for Gordhan.
Mkhwebane’s office said: “We won’t lend credence to propaganda by commenting on desperate attempts to discredit our report. Further, facts of law-breaking speak for themselves, are incontrovertible and stand there unshaken.”
It doesn’t matter that Mkhwebane’s report is fatally flawed and will be withdrawn by the High Court. But that will take time.
In the meantime, the anti-Gordhan cabal had bought themselves enough time to wear him and Ramaphosa down.
They will hope to inflict the fatal blow in the year to come.
Voetsek. You feed us lies!
Now watch this story in Noseweek being rehashed by Sunday Independent in the days to come.
It doesn’t matter that Noseweek and Sunday Independent are both small and discredited. Their trolls and pimps on Facebook and especially Twitter endlessly rehash and circulate their garbage as fact.
Ramaphosa’s detractors are licking their chops like hyenas and rubbing their paws together. They perceive weakness. They smell blood. DM
Billionaire oil tycoon J Paul Getty had a pay phone in his home so he wouldn't have to pay for guests' calls.