‘You were not the main target of the rogue unit probe,’ Mpofu tells ex-Sars executive

Implicated party Johann van Loggerenberg. Photo: Deon Raath

Implicated party Johann van Loggerenberg. Photo: Deon Raath

On Thursday, former SA Revenue Service (Sars) executive director Johann van Loggerenberg was at pains to explain why he centred himself on the so-called rogue unit report by suspended Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, when he was not the “primary target” of her investigation.

It was Van Loggerenberg’s second day of testifying before the committee established under section 194 of the Constitution to determine Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.

On Wednesday, Van Loggerenberg told the impeachment inquiry that Mkhwebane had failed in her duty to conduct the investigation into the so-called rogue unit “without fear, favour and prejudice” by not affording him the opportunity to participate. He said Mkhwebane had claimed that she could not locate him to give evidence even though her office not only had his email address, but that of his attorneys, and that his home address had been the same for ten years and he had been using the same cellphone number for over a decade.

READ: Mkhwebane impeachment: Mpofu reveals plans to call Ramaphosa to testify

Cross-examining Van Loggerenberg, Mkhwebane’s legal representative, Dali Mpofu, asked him if he understood that he was not the “primary target of the investigation”. Mpofu said, in fact, the main target for the investigation was former Sars commissioner and current Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

However, Van Loggerenberg said what he knew was that there were implicated parties, and he was one of them. Mpofu then asked Van Loggerenberg if there were any remedial actions about something that he needed to do because of the report, to which Van Loggerenberg said there was a recommendation that he needed to be criminally charged.

In attempting to show that the investigation had little to do with Van Loggerenberg, Mpofu said even the court case at the Pretoria High Court was between Gordhan and Mkhwebane. This is the case in which Gordhan took the report on review for it to be set aside.

“I don’t know. As you say, I’m a layperson,” said Van Loggerenberg in response to the issue raised by Mpofu regarding the court case.

“No, you can’t be a layperson when it suits you. You’ve been telling us about common cause and all sorts of things,” responded Mpofu. Van Loggerenberg said he was using the legal terms at the advice of his attorneys.

Mpofu asked:

Now, I’ll put it to you that anybody reading that report would understand that the primary target of the investigation was aimed at the role of Mr Gordhan. There might have been secondary people mentioned, but the primary target was Mr Gordhan. Do you dispute that?

Van Loggerenberg said there was not just one target of the investigation, and the prominent one might have been Gordhan, but “there were others too and I was one and that is why I am here today”.

‘Delayed questioning’

Earlier, Van Loggerenberg had made it clear that he took issue with Mpofu asking him questions about the investigation unit that Mkhwebane failed to ask him during her investigation and that Mkhwebane’s report was taken on court review.

He said:

Chairperson, these matters have been settled before our courts. And, in fact, what Mr Mpofu is asking me now are things that, I submit to the committee, the Public Protector ought to have asked of me then. The opportunity came and went.

“And that is precisely at the heart of my complaint. Now in [July] 2022 I must sit before Parliament and respond to things that Ms Mkhwebane could not ask me before July 2019 … It is almost as if we are going back in time and re-litigating.”

Mpofu asked him if he meant that Mkhwebane could not ask him questions after 2019. Van Loggerenberg said she should have asked him before she concluded the investigation, and, if she had, he would not be sitting before the committee, and that the questions he was being asked had been exhausted before courts.