Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been accused of deliberately refusing to give former head of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) investigative unit, Johan van Loggerenberg, an opportunity to give evidence during her investigation of the so-called rogue unit.
Van Loggerenberg says as the head of the unit, he was the most appropriate person to talk about the unit.
He adds that the unit was used by what he says were nefarious forces to attack SARS and capture it.
The former SARS executive was testifying at the impeachment hearing of Mkhwebane at Parliament.
The setting aside by the Gauteng high court in 2020 of Mkhwebane’s report into the SARS investigative unit is one of the many grounds on which calls were made for her to be be removed as Public Protector.
Van Loggerenberg was the head of this unit, which became known as the rogue unit in the media.
Mkhwebane alleged that she had tried to subpoena Van Loggerenberg but she had been unable to do this because he had allegedly moved from his usual residence and could not be found.
Van Loggerenberg, says during the time he worked at the entity, it was always under attack by various malicious forces.
Hearing into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office continues: Part 2
According to him, this was mostly from people who were opposed to those involved in law enforcement.
He says these attacks intensified from around 2009 and culminated in 2014 in a propaganda campaign focused at what he says was a tiny investigative unit.
The former SARS executive says these forces sought to capture SARS by bullying and getting rid of people.
Van Loggerenberg adds that this has had a negative impact on many SARS employees and their families.
“I’m still so traumatised by this and many other people remain and probably will for the rest of their lives. As a consequence, this propaganda remained [effective]. It just became expedient politically and otherwise for all and sundry, to at any point in time wish to use it – to put it back up on the radar and advance something,” he explains.
He further told the hearing that he cannot imagine that the Public Protector could not find him because he had written to her through his lawyers.
Van Loggerenberg is expected to continue with his evidence on Thursday morning and Mkhwebane through her legal representative, Dali Mpofu will get the opportunity to cross examine him.
Update on the Public Protector’s hearings with Lulama Matya: