Monday, October 27, 2014

Tell us the Truth , Minister Nene

Tell us the Truth, Minister Nene

On his return from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference in Geneva last week, a colleague told me this revealing story about South Africa’s delegation there:

Four senior ANC Members of Parliament at the conference made sure they squeezed every drop of benefit from the Ministerial Handbook. They opted for individual chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benzes to ferry them from their hotel to the conference venue and back.

A kombi was arranged for the other five South African delegates, although the two ANC members among them also chose to travel with their esteemed senior colleagues in the luxury German sedans.

Most of the delegates from Parliaments in the European Union used public transport or walked to get around.
This wasn’t lost on a British MP, who asked why his country should continue “foreign aid” transfers to South Africa when we clearly had more to splash around than anyone else.

In fact, one of the most embarrassing statistics arising out of the Nkandla scandal, is that the amount of taxpayers’ money lavished on the President’s private residence is almost equivalent in value to Britain’s annual Aid transfers to South Africa.

Nothing can explain away the waste and excess that has become synonymous with our government while our economy winds down, our unemployment rate soars, corruption escalates and state services deteriorate.

This was the context in which we sat down, on Wednesday afternoon last week, to listen to Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s first Mini Budget speech – or Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), as it is formally known.

This is an important event, at which the Finance Minister projects how much revenue will be available for the following three years, what the implications are for state expenditure, and how he intends to “balance the books”.
It turned out to be the shortest MTBPS in recent memory – not only in duration, but in terms of information and ideas.
We were told that the growth forecast for this year had once again been revised downwards, to 1,4% (while other emerging market economies are projected to grow at 6.5%); that there would be a budget shortfall of R25-billion over the next two years; and that taxes will have to bring in an additional R15-billion a year.

But Minister Nene’s speech buried the true story in flabby “belt tightening” bluster.

The truth is the budget cuts will be far more severe than we are being told (reaching at least R50-billion over the three year period), and the tax hikes far more bruising. What’s more, there is currently little sign that the 3% growth rate on which the Minister’s projections are based, will be achieved.

Even if government Ministers stopped milking the Ministerial handbook, and President Zuma repaid his ill-gotten Nkandla gains, and halved the Presidential spousal budget, it will not be possible to cut R50-billion off government expenditure over three years without seriously affecting front-line services. This will inevitably hit the poor hardest.

So much for Minister Nene’s wonderful but empty sound-bite of not “balancing the budget on the backs of the poor”.
Where else is he going to find savings of R50-billion?

Instead of announcing measures to stop the mind-boggling extent of “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” (which totaled R22-billion in the 2012/13 financial year), Minister Nene announced a paltry R1.3 billion cut, taken largely from ludicrously high departmental catering and advertising budgets. These minimal “savings” do not begin to deal with the scale of the challenge.

Minister Nene should have told us the truth. South Africa’s economy is in the Intensive Care Unit.
To turn it around will take a huge amount of political will to cut fruitless and wasteful expenditure, punish corruption, and make bold policy decisions necessary to stimulate economic growth.
And herein lies our problem.
Why is it that, when austerity measures are announced in EU democracies, Members of Parliament catch the bus or walk, while their South African counterparts claim every entitlement they can squeeze out of their extravagant “ministerial handbook” (which was drawn up at a time when the economy was booming and SA had a budget surplus?).

The answer to this crucial question lies in one word: accountability. British MPs know that if they “live it up” on public money especially during times of austerity, the media will expose them, the voters will punish them, and they will join the ranks of the unemployed come the next election.

We still have some way to go to entrench the core value of accountability in our democracy, although we are making good progress in the right direction.

One example is the about-turn by the ANC’s Gauteng Region on E-Tolls. They got a blow to the solar plexus in May, when the DA’s Gauteng support grew by 40% in the 2014 election. They are, with good reason, terrified of the voters’ verdict in the local elections of 2016. This is how things should be in a democracy.

Although our constitution is steeped in the language of accountability, this concept does not mean much until politicians begin to fear the voters. And this only happens when elected representatives know that corruption, profligacy and power abuse will be punished at the polls, and leave them disgraced and unemployed.

In our democracy, Jacob Zuma regularly refers, with great satisfaction, to the overwhelming 62% victory the ANC achieved nationally in this year’s election. He has said (with contempt) that the Nkandla millions are only of concern to a small intellectual, newspaper-reading elite.

But he does fear his patronage network -- the interlocking web of cadres he has distributed throughout his bloated cabinet, his party, the private sector and the public service.

The deal is simple: he looks after them, so that they will look after him. The tragedy for our democracy is that, in President Zuma’s risk analysis, there is a greater threat to his position if he trims the luxuries of the political elite, than there is in the wrath of the voters if he fails to do so.

That goes some way to explaining why, as South Africa faces grueling budget cuts, the Presidency is brazenly pushing for a tripling of its own budget, during the medium term expenditure framework, from its current R366 million to R1 billion in 2017.
This involves creating 750 new posts to extend the crony network that will protect each other’s interests. No government that fears voters would dare to do such a thing at a time of economic crisis, when the economy is shrinking and thousands of hard-working people are losing their jobs.

The ballooning of the Presidency‘s budget is not the only thing Minister Nene omitted to mention.
The biggest elephant in the room, of course, is the proposed R1-trillion nuclear deal, (which we’re repeatedly told is not a done deal with the Russians - which no one believes for a second).

All indications (including secret meetings) point to the fact that President Zuma intends forging ahead with this ill-advised, unaffordable nuclear procurement, which will be the biggest chunk of capital investment in the history of our democracy.

And yet it got not one mention in the mini-budget speech. Minister Nene should have told us that this deal can only be funded through further massive increases in the cost of electricity, which will kill business, drive away investments and strangle households.

Expensive line items that did make it onto the speech were continued financial support for our dismally performing State Owned Enterprises, as well as promises to limit public sector wage increases to around inflation. He spoke about selling off “non-strategic” state assets, but made no mention of how he intends to stop the haemorrhaging of public funds through SAA, Eskom and the SABC.

To reflect serious intent to deal with excessive state expenditure, Minister Nene should have announced a commitment to:
• Meaningful measures to cut a bloated bureaucracy that has resulted in government spending rocketing to 45,9% of GDP
• Start by trimming our ludicrously large cabinet to a size that’s in line with other countries at a comparable level of development. The easiest way to begin would be by scrapping deputy Ministerial positions.
• Launch an efficient, meaningful intervention to cut corruption and waste, starting at the top. While Jacob Zuma continues to duck his corruption charges, the government’s declared “zero tolerance” for corruption has “zero credibility”.
• Say no to the nuclear energy deal. Instead, we should explore smaller, modular builds (including renewables) by independent power providers, that can be scaled up or down as the demand dictates.

• Give us the new Ministerial Handbook that we’ve been hearing about for ages. Nothing says, “I’m committed to saving” quite like an administration that practices what it preaches.

Of course, Minister Nene is not mandated to make any of these reforms, because that would seriously impede President Zuma’s well-established patronage network, which would cost Nene his job.

So instead, he makes a few meaningless cuts and hopes to make us pay to fix it all when he announces increases in taxes next year, which is likely to strangle the economy further.

The only solution is to grow our way out of this crisis, enable small businesses to flourish and create more jobs, and build a broader tax base because more people have real jobs.

The government must create the context for this through bold leadership and sensible economic policy choices. Anything that discourages growth and jobs, hurts the poor more than anyone else.

The question is: when will voters deal with a President that refuses to lead?

Further tax hikes next year, including a possible increase in VAT, along with the prospect of crippling electricity bills, could have the same effect as e-tolls, but this time for all South Africans not just for the people of Gauteng.
The realisation amongst voters that President Zuma has been using them for a free ride to build his own empire, cannot come a moment too soon.

We know that 2016 is just around the corner, but far enough away for South Africans to find out by then what Minister Nene didn't tell them in his speech last Wednesday.

Helen Zille

Phiyega’s medals of dishonour?

October 24 2014 at 07:39am
By Angelique Serrao Comment on this story
IOL si Crime statsETCH
National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega has four police medals despite becoming a police officer only in 2012, when her appointment was officially announced. File picture: Masi Losi
Johannesburg - National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega has four police medals despite becoming a police officer only in 2012, when her appointment was officially announced.

The decorations were revealed in Parliament when DA police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard asked about the medals Phiyega wore at the National Police Remembrance Day.

The medals that have been awarded to the commissioner are the SAPS gold medal for outstanding service, the SAPS 10-year commemoration medal, the amalgamation medal and the Fifa World Cup 2010 support medal.

The Star understands that the outstanding service medal is awarded to an officer who has distinguished themselves through exceptional leadership, resourcefulness and a sense of duty.

The SAPS 10-year commemoration award was for serving in the police between 1995 and 2005, the first 10 years of democracy, and the amalgamation award was given when the 11 police agencies were amalgamated into one service in 1994. The World Cup 2010 support award was for officers who worked during the tournament.

Kohler Barnard said she was inundated with calls from SAPS members asking what Phiyega had earned her medals for.

“What right has she to wear medals for the Fifa World Cup or for 10-year commemorations?” Kohler Barnard asked.

“It is so utterly disrespectful to those SAPS members who have actually earned the right to wear these medals.”

Police Ministry spokesman Musa Zondi said the commissioner’s outstanding service award was given for her sterling work in the time she had been with the police and that the 2010 World Cup medal was given for being part of the World Cup local committee.

He said the 10-year commemoration was given because of her rank as a general who was awarding these medals to others.

The amalgamation award was given for her continued work in amalgamating different police units, her work in transforming the police service and for being the first female police commissioner.

Military expert Helmoed-Römer Heitman said medals are there so that on first sight you can see what a fellow officer has done in their years of service.

Medals are given for long service, merit awards for outstanding service for taking part in a specific campaign and for bravery.

“I don’t think anyone would object to the outstanding service medal and she probably did good work in 2010,” Heitman said.

“I’m happy to accept that she deserves the medals, but I know a lot of cops who will be very unhappy.”

Oscar Skommere, general secretary of the South African Police Union, was one of them.

He said getting medals in the police was like taking part in a race. If you race and win, you get a medal. If you didn’t take part, you don’t get the award.

“If you get a gold award for outstanding service, you need to have achieved it. All Phiyega has done is make mistake after mistake. Look at Marikana and the rising crime stats,” Skommere said.

He added that police officers who were actually working during 1994, 1995 and 2010 still hadn’t got their medals even though they met the requirements.

“You don’t just get an award because you are a general.

“Those times have gone by. If you weren’t there, why get those medals?”

The Star

Related Stories

Zuma: No committee to probe Phiyega
‘Politics’ at play for top cops
Crime figures just don’t make sense

SA: Statement by Dirk Hermann, Chief Executive of Solidarity, on intensifying Renate Barnard’s fight against racial ideology

SA: Statement by Dirk Hermann, Chief Executive of Solidarity, on intensifying Renate Barnard’s fight against racial ideology (02/09/2014)

Published September 2014

MSA: Statement by Solidarity, trade union, watershed case on unfair affirmative action heard by Constitutional Court (20/03/2014)

Renate Barnard affirmative action case to be heard in Constitutional Court

SA: Statement by Solidarity, trade union, on establishing a legal fund for 34 affirmative action cases (19/03/2014)

The Solidarity trade union announced that it will now continue Renate Barnard’s fight for justice in new ways. This comes after the Constitutional Court today ruled against Renate Barnard.

For nine years, Barnard was involved in a legal battle with the South African Police Service (SAPS) after having been overlooked for appointment twice because of the colour of her skin. To Solidarity, the Renate Barnard case is not the end of the legal battle over affirmative action; it is the beginning.

“Something that wrong cannot be right. Renate Barnard only had one dream and that was to serve the South African public through the SAPS. The only thing that stood between her and her dream was the colour of her skin. Barnard and the public are the losers in this case,” Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann said.

“We are deeply disappointed by the Constitutional Court’s judgment. It is clear that the fight for justice will take longer than nine years and we will continue with it on different levels. Firstly, we will confront the Constitutional Court with more court cases. In the Barnard case, we merely attacked the application of the SAPS’s affirmative action plan; not the plan itself. The next case of Solidarity which is likely to be heading to the Constitutional Court, is the case on behalf of ten employees of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). In this case, we attack the injustices of the affirmative action plan itself. This case has already been referred to the Labour Appeal Court.

“Secondly, we will now take the battle to international forums. The ruling by the Constitutional Court means that the internal remedies in the South African legal system have been exhausted. Our legal team has been instructed to investigate legal proceedings in terms of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as Convention 111 of the International Labour Organisation, of which South Africa is a signatory.

“Thirdly, we will fight a more aggressive battle of ideas against the ideology of absolute racial representivity in South Africa. History will show that the judgment by the Constitutional Court was wrong and we will prove this with our battle of ideas.

“We tip our hats to Renate Barnard, though. She has become the symbol of someone who stands up for what is right. Her fight against the way in which she was treated by the SAPS has become an inspiration to many. The Constitutional Court ruled against Renate Barnard but Solidarity will continue her battle for justice,” Hermann said.

Issued by Solidarity
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

Government and business should never be apologetic about implementing affirmative action, according to National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega.

No apologies for affirmative action, says Phiyega

October 2014 Sapa

Former police officer Renate Barnard's court case drew attention to affirmative action in the SAPS. (Gallo)

“We need to ensure that affirmative action does not get stunted,” National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega told delegates at a Black Management Forum conference in Johannesburg. “Let’s stop being apologetic about things we need to do.”

Phiyega said affirmative action was a conscious attempt to redress past injustices and it should continue, but within the confines of the Constitution.

Barnard court case
She referred to the recent court case involving former police officer Renate Barnard. In September the Constitutional Court set aside an order of the Supreme Court of Appeal that the South Africa Police Service (SAPS) had discriminated against Barnard by not promoting her. Acting Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said in his majority judgment that the SAPS employment equity plan was not challenged.

The court found the police commissioner acted lawfully and rationally in implementing the plan in Barnard’s case. Barnard’s affirmative action case went back to 2005, when she applied for the post of lieutenant-colonel, which at that time was superintendent in terms of the old police rankings.

She twice applied unsuccessfully for promotion to superintendent within the police’s national evaluation service, which deals with complaints by the public and public officials about police services.

Despite recommendations by an interview panel and her divisional commissioner, the national police commissioner did not appoint her to the position, saying that racial representation at the level of superintendent would be negatively affected. Phiyega said Barnard was promoted to the level she needed to be, albeit in a different section. She said there was an opening in that department that allowed for her to be promoted.

Phiyega criticised labour union Solidarity for what she called meddling in police affairs and for hampering the promotion of police officers. “We have been trying to promote members who serve, protect and ensure the safety of the country, but we are constantly being interdicted by Solidarity. It has been two years that we have been in that position,” she said. – Sapa

DA: Statement by Helen Zille, Leader of the Democratic Alliance, on Renate Barnard and affirmative action: Where does the DA stand? (17/09/2014)

Published 17 Sep 2014

+: Statement by Adv. Anton Alberts, Freedom Front Plus parliamentary spokesperson: Labour, on Constitutional Court decision in favour of SAPS in Renate Barnard case is disappointing (02/09/2014)

SA: Statement by Dirk Hermann, Chief Executive of Solidarity, on intensifying Renate Barnard’s fight against racial ideology (02/09/2014)

SA: Statement by Solidarity, trade union, watershed case on unfair affirmative action heard by Constitutional Court (20/03/2014)

Of the many issues South Africans find it difficult to have a rational discussion about, affirmative action tops the list.

It is called many names, but for most people it means one thing: employment preferment on the basis of race. And people are either vehemently “for,” or virulently “against” it.

But what exactly is “it”?

And where does the DA stand?

This newsletter once again focuses on this crucial issue, in the light of the unanimous recent ruling by the Constitutional Court, dismissing the claim by a SAPS officer, Renate Barnard, through her trade union Solidarity, of unfair discrimination.

She had twice applied for promotion to the same position, twice been recommended as the best candidate by the adjudicating panel, and twice been turned down by the Commissioner on the basis of her race, while the post remained vacant.

Before examining the details of the Renate Barnard judgement, I will focus on the broader issue of affirmative action.

Having considered the matter carefully, I have classified affirmative action in South Africa into four distinct approaches. Once one understands what they are, it becomes easier to analyse examples on a case-by-case basis.

One approach is “representivity”. This is another word for “quotas”. Representivity aims to achieve a situation in which every employment category, at every level in any institution, company or government department, reflects the racial ratios of the broader population.

At national level, on the basis of the 2011 census, this would be 79,2% black African, 8,9% white, 8,9% coloured, 2,5% Indian. In this approach, race classification and “race proportionality” usually trump all other considerations.

The second approach is “cadre deployment”. This describes the way the ANC uses “racial preferment” as a smokescreen to ensure that party loyalists control all institutions of the state, the economy, and civil society.

The ANC even has a formal “deployment committee” to undertake this task. In this approach, loyalty to the ANC (or a faction within the ANC) overrides all other considerations, while “race” is merely a convenient fig leaf used to camouflage the strategy of “capturing” all key institutions, private and public, and bending them to the ANC’s agenda.

The third approach is best described as the promotion of “diversity”. This involves a conscious effort to redress the effects of past discrimination through broadening opportunity, advancing people’s potential through training and mentorship, improving education, and growing the economy to promote inclusivity.

It is possible to incorporate diversity “targets” in this approach, without turning them into quotas, and while still ensuring that other criteria (such as capacity to do the job, relevant experience and qualifications) remain central to employment and promotion decisions.

The fourth approach regards any form of affirmative action as “reverse racism” or “compromising on merit” and rejects it unequivocally.

The DA supports option 3 for three reasons:

It is the right thing to do.
It is the only approach that can achieve inclusivity with sustained economic growth, which is essential to creating the jobs required to make affirmative action work in the long term.

It is the only approach compatible with the Constitution and the law.

The DA’s goal is to ensure South Africa becomes an open, opportunity society for all. We are not in denial about the impact of past discrimination. We believe this legacy must be addressed without entrenching race as the determinant of a person’s life chances. We reject the notion that “demography is destiny”. We also understand how important it is in any society to reinforce the link between effort and ability (on the one hand) and outcomes and rewards (on the other).

At the same time, we recognise the extent to which past opportunities were skewed, and we want to help correct this. Within the DA we try to practice what we preach and our approach is beginning to bear fruit in the rapidly increasing diversity throughout our party.

In our approach, race on its own, is not the criterion for preferment. It is one of the factors we take into account. Everyone in the DA agrees that race cannot be used as a substitute for skills, commitment, initiative, effort and plain old-fashioned hard work. We look for the full package.

Option 3 is not an exact science. There is no easy formula to follow. Each case must be analysed in its context; and must take a range of factors into account.

As part of this process, we have developed the concept of “fitness for purpose”, which includes (but is certainly not limited to) the attainment of diversity. It also includes qualifications, experience, track record, potential and other relevant factors. It opens opportunities for people to prove themselves, but does not manipulate race-based outcomes according to numerical formulae.

The key objective of option 3 is to employ and retain people who not only enhance diversity, but who are also competent and effective. Importantly, it does not create an impenetrable barrier to the promotion of people who are not from “designated groups”.

The constitutional approach to affirmative action is defined by clauses 9 (1) and (2) of the Bill of Rights. These state:

9. (1) Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.

9. (2) Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons or categories of persons disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.

A crucial point about clause 9 (2) is that it says nothing about race. It speaks about disadvantage. This distinction will become more and more relevant over time, as education and economic opportunity erode the legacy of apartheid, and disadvantage is less defined by race.

The Constitution’s purpose is clearly to reduce the impact of “racial preferment” and eradicate it over time. Anyone who believes in the goal of non-racialism must support this thrust.

The University of Cape Town has started moving away from “race” as the sole arbiter of disadvantage in its admission criteria. It now factors in a range of issues that are better measures of disadvantage.

It has been interesting to note the outcry from some black students, which should serve as an early warning that once a “category of persons” becomes accustomed to racial preferment, they defend that advantage, even when it is unconstitutional and unlawful to do so.

Over time, there are likely to be more Constitutional Court cases challenging racial preferment in matters where race is no longer an adequate proxy for disadvantage.

But, apart from the constitutional imperative, it is also important to analyse the “legislative measures” that are mandated under Clause 9 (2) of the Constitution. These include the Employment Equity Act, and particularly clauses 6 (1) and (2) which read:

6 (1) No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against an employee in any employment policy or practice on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language and birth.

6 (2) It is not unfair discrimination to

a) take measures consistent with the purpose of this Act [i.e. to promote equal opportunity and fair treatment through the elimination of unfair discrimination]; or

b) distinguish, exclude or prefer any person on the basis of an inherent requirement of a job.

In addition the Act specifically outlaws quotas, which is why, after a false start last year, the DA kicked up such a fuss about amendments to the Act that enabled “quota regulations” to be drawn up by the Minister, exposing the ANC’s intentions to sneak in quotas through the back door. (These regulations were subsequently amended.)

The Barnard case is helpful in describing a quota as an “absolute barrier” to promotion, on the basis of race, or other arbitrary requirements that are not inherent to the nature of the job.

The Court found that this “absolute barrier” or “permanent ceiling” was not present in the Renate Barnard case because, although she was “passed over” twice for promotion to a position for which she had been unanimously recommended, the post was deemed “non-critical” for service delivery; the two black officers who scored slightly lower than she did (in the second round) were also not appointed; and the post was subsequently abolished, while Barnard herself was promoted to another post.

The 11 member court produced three different judgments, which gave different reasons for their unanimous conclusion that Ms Barnard’s application should fail.

The majority finding (supported by 6 judges), hinged on a technicality. It argued that Barnard had changed the basis of her case at appeal stage, challenging not the SAPS affirmative action plan, but the Commissioner’s application of it. Such a change was not possible at appeal stage, and Barnard’s case could therefore not be upheld.

It is worth quoting Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke who authored the majority judgement, in this context:

“I pause to underline the requirement that beneficiaries of affirmative action must be equal to the task at hand. They must be suitably qualified people in order not to sacrifice efficiency and competence at the altar of remedial employment. The Act sets itself against the hurtful insinuation that affirmative action measures are a refuge for the mediocre or incompetent. Plainly, a core object of equity at the workplace is to employ and retain people who not only enhance diversity but who are also competent and effective in delivering goods and services to the public.”

A minority finding (supported by 3 judges), argued that the matter of the Commissioner’s application could indeed be adjudicated, on the basis of whether Barnard had been unfairly discriminated against in terms of the SAPS plan. These judges found that, despite scant reasons and sparse evidence to back the Police Commissioner’s decision, it narrowly complied with the fairness test.

The final judgment, (authored by a single judge), said the test was whether the decision not to promote Barnard had impacted disproportionately on her dignity as an individual. He concluded it had not.

As far as I can establish, the judges did not adjudicate the constitutionality or legality of the SAPS’s employment equity plan itself, which may have produced an entirely different result.

Because, as Counsel for Officer Barnard cogently argued, the plan would battle to pass the test of constitutionality. It divides posts at every level of the service into a numerical grid, reflecting the proportional composition of the population as a whole in terms of eight categories. These include the four apartheid race categories (black, coloured, Indian and white), each of which is then divided into two gender categories: males and females.

While race placements are determined by strict proportionality, women are only allocated 30% of positions (and men 70%), despite the fact that women constitute 51% of the population. The SAPS do not explain this anomaly in their quota-based (and I therefore believe, unlawful) system.

It is very interesting to note that where the courts have been called to adjudicate the SAPS applications of quotas, they have concluded that quotas are not lawful. The best known case in this context is that of Jennila Naidoo, who also challenged her non-promotion after being rejected on the grounds of the SAPS affirmative action policy in 2009.

In court, SAPS explained that their employment equity plan sets “targets” for every level of employment based on national race demographics (then still on the basis of the 2001 census): 79% African, 9,6% white, 8,9% coloured and 2,5% Indian. In terms of gender, the targets were 70% male and 30% female at each employment level.

Ms Naidoo applied for the position of cluster commander in Krugersdorp, a level 14 position. In the interviews and assessments she achieved 74,2%, which was the second highest score. The candidate with the highest score was recommended for another position, and the panel recommended Naidoo in order to address the issue of gender equity. However, she was rejected by the relevant Commissioner in favour of a black male candidate.

The SAPS rationale for this decision was as follows:

There were 19 posts at level 14. To determine how many of those posts would be given to Africans, the following calculation was applied: 19 x 79% = 15 posts.

A similar calculation was applied to Indians: 19 x 2,5% = 0,475 posts.

To calculate how many of those posts would be occupied by Indian females: 0,5 x 30% = 0,1 posts -- which was rounded off to 0.

Thus, SAPS concluded (and indeed argued in court), that no Indian female could ever be promoted to post level 14, because their numbers in the population did not warrant it.

The court concluded that this was unconstitutional and unlawful. The SAPS quota system created an absolute barrier to Ms Naidoo’s progress on the basis of her race and gender. The court made it clear that equity targets cannot be turned into quotas.

The Renate Barnard case was different from the Jennila Naidoo case. But they both evoked the same amount of passion, anger and intemperate language on both sides, especially from people who cannot be bothered with detail. And in these matters, the devil is always in the detail.

To do justice to this fraught debate, one has to grapple with the detail of each case, and any employment equity plan must make this possible.

Only option 3 (above) enables us to do this, and make decisions on the basis of what is “fit for purpose” in each employment decision, so that South Africa can deal with the legacy of the past while preventing race from becoming the predominant criterion in decision making.

This is the imperfect and difficult balance we must strive to maintain as we move towards achieving a non-racial society as soon as possible.

Issued by the DA
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter

Riah Phiyega to face police probe

National 26.10.2014

Riah Phiyega to face police probe
FILE PICTURE: National police commissioner Riah Phiyega. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Police commissioner Riah Phiyega is being investigated by a committee looking into problems in the police.

Related Stories

Phiyega will give Meyiwa update – police 27.10.2014
Double life terms for elderly couple’s killers 25.10.2014
Sex worker accuses swimming coach of assault 25.10.2014
Life sentence for duo after double murder and robbery 25.10.2014
Suspects arrested after Laudium video goes viral (video) 24.10.2014

The “reference group” was established by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and is expected, among others, to probe Phiyega for allegedly warning Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer that he was being investigated for his alleged links to drug lords.

According to the Sunday Independent, the committee’s terms of reference include looking at appointments, suspensions, and disciplinary and criminal proceedings involving senior police management.

Nhleko’s spokesman Musa Zondi said the committee’s six members, who he did not name, were not from the police, but “experts in their own fields”.

The committee would reportedly also look at the suspension of police crime intelligence unit head Richard Mdluli and claims that KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Major-General Johan Booysen was being targeted.

The claims against Phiyega came to light when crime intelligence operatives legally recorded Lamoer’s phone conversations, suspecting him of being involved with an alleged criminal.

Nhleko announced the establishment of the committee earlier this month, saying outstanding legal and disciplinary matters had to be resolved urgently.

- Sapa


The national police commissioner will not be prosecuted following accusations of her interfering in an on-going crime intelligence investigation.
National police commissioner Riah Phiyega. (Gallo)

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega will not be prosecuted for allegedly defeating the ends of justice following a decision reached by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) this week.

Phiyega, who was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in June 2012, was accused in October last year of interfering in an on-going crime intelligence investigation into Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer and his possible links to so-called underworld characters.

Phiyega was alleged to have tipped Lamoer off that he was being investigated, more than three times – although she denied doing anything untoward.

The NPA released a statement on Saturday saying: “After an investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) the executive director of IPID referred the docket to the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP),Mxolisi Nxasana.

“The NDPP then referred the docket to the director public prosecutions, Western Cape, Advocate Rodney de Kock, to make a decision.

“Advocate de Kock has satisfied himself that the IPID investigation is complete. After duly considering the statements and evidence in the docket and in light of all the circumstances, the DPP has declined to prosecute. It is considered that there are no reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution.”

‘Initiated a conversation’
According to reports, crime intelligence had been monitoring Lamoer’s communications last year in order to establish his relationship with an alleged gangster. It was reportedly from these intercepts that investigators became aware that Phiyega had alerted Lamoer to the investigation.

Members of the Western Cape’s crime intelligence division opened a case of defeating the ends of justice against Phiyega in October last year. The allegations emerged three days after Phiyega placed then acting crime intelligence head Chris Ngcobo on special leave for allegedly lying about his qualifications.

AmaBhungane understands that the police’s top brass underwent a vetting process for security clearance by the State Security Agency during the course of last year. Discrepancies were discovered, Phiyega said last year, relating to Ncgobo’s academic qualifications. Shortly after he was suspended, Phiyega found herself embroiled in the Lamoer affair. She denied that she interfered in the case.

Last year Phiyega’s spokesperson, Solomon Makgale denied that Phiyega had “initiated a conversation” with Lamoer, regarding the allegations “but that the conversation arose as a result of a question by a [Democratic Alliance] member of Parliament. “The department is obliged to reply to such questions,” Makgale said.

Phiyega had become aware that there was an inquiry into Lamoer after the Hawks had briefed her about it on May 29 last year. “[Hawks boss Lieutenant-General Anwa] Dramat, at the time, indicated that the inquiry was initiated at the request of Lieutenant-General Lamoer in July 2012. In other words, Lieutenant General Lamoer has always been aware of the inquiry,” Makgale said.

* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Click here.

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See for our stories, activities and funding sources.

Zuma's probe into Phiyega welcome - Dianne Kohler Barnard

Zuma's probe into Phiyega welcome - Dianne Kohler Barnard

Dianne Kohler Barnard

DA MP says a career police officer has not headed SAPS since 2000 and the effects have been devastating

DA welcomes probe into Phiyega


The DA welcomes the fact that, after writing to President Jacob Zuma not once but twice, he has now ordered a ministerial probe into the conduct of the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, but will further request that the terms of reference be expanded to include Phiyega's entire record in office to determine whether or not she is indeed a fit and proper person to hold this crucial office (see Sunday Independent report).

This comes after reports that President Zuma has ordered a ministerial probe into her handling and interference in the Western Cape Police Commissioner Lamoer issue for allegedly defeating the ends of justice by tipping him off to an ongoing investigation he was the subject of. The probe will also look into the possibility that Phiyege misled the public when she claimed she was not awsare that Lieutenant-General Mondli Zuma, whom she had appointed Gauteng police commissioner, faced criminal charges.

Phiyega was appointed 12 June 2012 after two terrible failures by her non-police predecessors. Despite requests from all sectors that he choose a career police officer, the President chose her, and the DA was cautiously optimistic that with her much vaunted managerial experience she would manage a major turnaround at the SAPS.

Instead she has stumbled from crisis to crisis.

There has not been a career police officer in the position of National Police Commissioner since 2000 and the effects of political appointments have been devastating. We now have an under-resourced, under-trained and increasingly brutal police service.

At the outset of her tenure, the DA sent her a to-do list of the top priorities we believed she needed to focus on. This included the following:

Ensuring that every single police station in this country was provided with water, sanitation facilities and electricity and address the needs of the 153 stations where police officers in the line of duty are going without such basic services;

Reintroducing and strengthening the specialised units controversially disbanded by Jackie Selebi including the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units, Anti-Hijacking units, the Narcotics Bureau and anti-Gang units;

Demilitarise the police service, as recommended by the DA and the National Development Plan, to ensure that a culture of service returns to the SAPS which puts people first

Enhancing station management skills to ensure that professional police stations were properly managed and resourced with the right expertise;

Introducing mandatory specialised training and fitness requirements to ensure that the police were not only fighting fit, but also skilled in combatting violent crime;

Enforcing performance agreements in the SAPS and recognising and rewarding exceptional performance; and

Empowering station commanders to encourage local initiatives at the station-level to develop innovative and localised policing strategies which responded to the specific needs of communities.

Of these seven priority interventions which we asked Commissioner Phiyega to address, she has failed to make any discernible difference in relation to any single one of them.

Instead the country watched in horror as the police shot dead 34 miners at Marikana. Since this tragedy, and after she congratulated them for their actions, she has moved from crisis to crisis.

We will thud write to the President to ask that he adds the following on to this investigation by the Ministers, which we can only conclude will lead to the legislatively mandated Judicial Commission to determine whether or not to rid us of this latest Police Commissioner whose tenure has been marred by the following:

The annual crime statistics release has now been bungled twice in the two years under this NPC. Last year the incorrect census data was used, skewing the figures, and this year the wrong stats were used for both KZN and Limpopo, with nonsensical data being reported, handed out and put up on the SAPS website. One is hard pressed to find a South African who believes anything but the fact that the annual murder rate is once again up.

Richard Mdluli remains on suspension and the Crime Intelligence Unit is in tatters. She then both hired and then suspended a new head of Crime Intelligence after he laid charges after listening to her allegedly tipping off the Western Cape Police Commissioner that he was under investigation.

The NPC is driving what can only be described as a taxpayer funded witch-hunt against the head of the Hawks KZN, Major-General Johan Booysen. The Attorney she hired cleared the Maj-General of any and all accusations, and insisted he be allowed back to work. He had previously been cleared twice in the Labour Court and one in the High Court. She is once again wasting taxpayers' money taking this on review, and putting him on special leave. She has come out of that hearing extremely poorly, "her evidence was evasive and unsatisfactory and she had no insight or knowledge of the factual content relating to these events". "The charges against Booysen were contrived to get rid of him".

Throughout the Marikana crisis she showed her lack of knowledge of policing and failed to acknowledge the police's responsibility in the death of 44 people, going as far as to say that they did not kill them;

No progress has been made in addressing police brutality;

She has failed to rectify the resourcing crisis in the SAPS;

No decisive action has been taken against SAPS members found to have criminal records - except that she set up Boards of Inquiry illegally, and the results were thrown out in court

There are 39 000 operational SAPS members without firearm competency certificates; a massive increase from the 21 000 in 2012.

There are at least 20 000 operational SAPS members without driver's licences

After the Jackie Selebi closures, the SAPS is still without anti-hijacking units, the narcotics bureau, or the anti-gang units. International best practice shows that these are crucial in gang- and drug infested areas.

The impact of the militarisation of the SAPS was seen at Marikana as well as with the increasing levels of police brutality. The re-introduction of military ranks and concomitant shoot-to-kill mentality means that our police now treat the public as the enemy rather than serving to protect them. Commissioner Phiyega stated at the Farlam Commission in 2012 that the SAPS would be demilitarised but failed to say when, contradicted statements made by her political boss, Minister Mthethwa and since then nothing has been done in this regard.

Police officers are currently only required to walk 1.6 km for their fitness assessment and do one minute bent-knee curl-up and one minute push-up. The majority of them fail this test.

Performance agreements have not been instituted within the SAPS and a fair promotion policy has not been implemented.

Empowering Station Commanders to be innovative with their policing strategies has become more pertinent but has not been done.

Instead of addressing these issues, the National Police Commissioner has embarrassed herself time and time again through a lack of policing knowledge and as a result, has shown a lack of leadership. Unfortunately, Phiyega has become better known for what she says rather than what she does.

She has pulled the gender card, claiming she's coming under intense public scrutiny because she is a woman. She claimed that her predecessors had never received the same attention. The reality is that she is coming under scrutiny for failing to show leadership at crucial moments.

The time has now come to seriously consider discharging Riah Phiyega.

Statement issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP, DA Shadow Minister of Police, September 28 2014


Riah Phiyega's amazing medals - Dianne Kohler Barnard
Dianne Kohler Barnard
24 October 2014

DA MP says the national police commissioner's stunning achievements apparently include time travel

‘Congratulations' to Commissioner Phiyega on four medals for ‘outstanding service'

The DA hereby congratulates the National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, for the four medals she has received for her excellent contribution to the police.

The DA received a reply to a parliamentary question revealing that Commissioner Phiyega received 4 medals from former Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa.

These medals included:

1. A SAPS 10-year Commemoration Award. The DA congratulates Commissioner Phiyega for the amazing feat of earning this medal in her 2 years of service. No one else would have been able to pull off 10 years of excellence in 2 short years.

2. A Gold Medal for outstanding service. The DA applauds Nathi Mthethwa for his excellent judgment in awarding this medal to the Police Commissioner. With crime rates on the rise, Marikana, police brutality, mall robberies escalating out of control, thousands of convicted criminals in the SAPS and many other issues still outstanding, one can clearly see how the Commissioner's ‘excellent service' has affected the SAPS. With wise decisions such as this one, it is a mystery why President Zuma had Nathi Mthethwa demoted to the Arts and Culture Portfolio.

3. The World Cup 2010 Support Award for Officers who worked on the World Cup. This is arguably Riah Phiyega's greatest achievement. It is incredible that she was able to earn this award given that the World Cup took place a full two years before the Commissioner even joined the Police.

4. An amalgamation medal for the 11 police agencies that were amalgamated into one service in 1994. This is extremely well done given that this, too, far preceded her time at the SAPS by 18 years.

But we think Riah Phiyega can do even more for her country.

I will personally bestow a fifth medal on Riah Phiyega on one condition: If she agrees to resign, we will provide her with a DA-sponsored patriotic duty award. Surely, having reached such heights at the SAPS, the time has now come for the Police Commissioner to step aside and give the next person a chance. That would be a patriotic act worthy of celebrating with a medal.

Of course, I will also be submitting further Parliamentary questions to the Police Minister to determine exactly how it is that the Police Commissioner was able to win these medals. It's almost too good to be true.

Text of the parliamentary reply:







1669. Ms D Kohler (DA) to ask the Minister of Police:

(a) How many medals did the National Police Commissioner wear at the 2014 National Police Remembrance Day, (b) what was each medal awarded for and (c) who awarded each medal to the specified person?



(a) Four (4),

(b) - SAPS, Gold medal for outstanding service

- SAPS, 10 year commemoration

- Amalgamation

- Soccer world cup 2010 support

(c) Medals were awarded by the former Minister of Police

Statement issued by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP, DA Shadow Minister of Police, October 24 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oscar Pistorius: ‘5 years is not enough’

NO Crime No Corruption No Persecutions........

21 October 2014  11:36

Oscar Pistorius: ‘5 years is not enough’

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp – a sentence that has divided society.

BREAKING: Oscar Pistorius sentenced to 5 years in prison for culpable homicide 

Absa, Grindrod Bank reject funding to Nova - Sharemax was a Ponzi Scheme according to Noluntu Bam

Special Investigations

Author: Ryk van Niekerk|
October 2014

Absa, Grindrod Bank reject funding to Nova (

Board blames negative media reports and Sarb for failure to secure finance.

Continued negative media reporting about the Nova Property Group has caused Absa and Grindrod Bank to withdraw funding lines to the group, the Nova board said in a recent communiqué to debentures and shareholders of its various investment schemes.

In the communiqué the Nova board does not pull any punches and blames the media for creating a perception of “reputational risk” which led the banks not to extend funding to the group.

The board also lashed out at the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) for not supporting the Nova Group when Grindrod Bank approached it with concerns that its reputation may suffer if it did business with the Nova Group.

The Nova board did not elaborate on the potential impact Absa and Grindrod’s decision would have on the group. Nova did state that the funding from Absa would have been used to upgrade unnamed shopping centres. Nova also does not state whether it has received funding from other sources.


This attack on the media follows a similar notion by Connie Myburgh (pictured), Chairman of the Nova Group, during the group’s annual general meeting in November last year.

The Nova Group was established through the restructuring of the Sharemax property scheme. Nova is controlled by four directors, two of whom: Dominique Haese and Dirk Koekemoer, played important roles in the promotion of Sharemax investment products.

The scheme was recently placed under the spotlight when the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services ombud Noluntu Bam stated that Sharemax was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme and that its directors should also be held liable for investors’ losses.

The directors are appealing this determination.

Grindrod Bank

In the recent quarterly update, the Nova board revealed that Grindrod Bank withdrew a possible funding line, following the publication of alleged “inaccurate” and “misleading” media reports.

The board said discussions between Nova and Grindrod had been at an advanced stage when the bank withdrew from the process last month. “The sole reason advanced by Grindrod for not perusing a business relationship with the Nova Group, was the possibility that Grindrod might suffer so-called ‘reputational risk’, should Grindrod lend funds to the Nova Group,” the communiqué reads.

The board added that Grindrod Bank approached Sarb in this regard, but that the Reserve Bank did not allay these fears.

Grindrod Bank declined to comment on these allegations. A spokesperson said it is the bank’s policy not to reveal reasons for credit application refusals or to comment on said refusals to third parties.


According to the Nova board, Absa also declined to extend further funding to Nova due to negative media reports. The board was “surprised” when it was informed about the bank’s decision.

In the communiqué, Nova alleges that Absa sent the following correspondence to Nova: “I regret to inform you that after much deliberation and consultation with our Head Office it was decided that Absa cannot proceed with entertaining any further transactions linked to the Nova Group. Today again, there was media reporting around this which does not pose well.”

It is not clear who sent this correspondence on behalf of Absa and to what media reports it referred to.

The Nova Board also said it has subsequently terminated its business relationship with Absa and that it settled its previous loan before the due date.

Absa did not want to respond to the allegations. An Absa spokesperson did however state that Absa couldn’t comment on the allegations due to client confidentiality.

“In so far as public statements have been made in respect of Absa's relationship with the particular client, Absa reserves the right to answer in the appropriate forum and at the appropriate time.

“Generally speaking, in making decisions of this nature Absa will consider a number of factors such as quality of existing property portfolio, lease expiry profile, group cash flow, group structure and the manner in which investors receive funds post sale of properties."

Reserve Bank

It is also clear that the Nova board is not impressed with Sarb’s failure to dispel the notion that Grindrod would suffer “reputational risk” if it conducted business with Nova.

The board said Sarb played an intimate and active role in the restructuring of the Sharemax syndications in 2010 and the subsequent creation of the Nova Group, and that one of the purposes of the new structure was to remove the historical negative perceptions of the old Sharemax structure. “…When asked for clarification as to the continued existence of ‘reputational risk’, the Sarb unfortunately appears to be unable to assist, notwithstanding the aforesaid role of Sarb in the restructuring proves and the creation of the Nova Group,” the communiqué reads.

The board went on to say:

“This is indeed an extremely sad state of affairs, when members of the Banking Fraternity and its regulator, the SARB, are unwilling to assist the Nova Group in acting in the best interests of the very “Pensioners” who’s plight the Media continues to lament, under circumstances where it is the SARB, who imposed the Directives on the historical so-called “Sharemax Group” (some 3 years ago), whilst, afterwards, actively assisted in terminating the existence of such historical “Sharemax Group”, and withdrawing the Directives, as a consequence, on 8 February 2012, so as to remove any impediment on and in regard to the historical business of the restructured “Sharemax Group”, constituting, to the best benefit of Shareholders and Debenture Holders, the new Nova Group.”

Sarb did not respond at the time of publication.



Special Investigations

Author: Ryk van Niekerk

18 September 2014

Sharemax complaints surge after Bam determination

Sars applies for liquidation of Sharemax and termination of the business rescue process.

The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has applied for the liquidation of Sharemax Investments and for the business rescue proceedings of the company to be terminated.

This follows a lengthy tug of war since 2012 between Sars and the directors of Sharemax and the Nova Group of Companies for the payment of R15.7 million of outstanding taxes.

Sars filed the application in June 2014, as it does not foresee the company being able to pay the debt.

Sars names, amongst others, business practitioner Dawie van der Merwe, former Sharemax directors Willie Botha, André Brand, Dominique Haese, as well as Nova Property Group chairman Connie Myburgh as respondents.


In a strongly worded affidavit Elle-Sarah Rossato contends on behalf of Sars that that the sole reason for placing Sharemax Investments into business rescue was to abuse the mechanism prescribed by the Company’s Act not to pay creditors.

“The inescapable inference is that creditors of Sharemax Investments were misled with a promise that R40 million would be coming their way, whilst the controllers of the first respondent had already decided to abuse the Company’s Act business rescue provisions.”

The R40 million refers to the amount earmarked to be paid to Sharemax Investments shortly after restructuring the investments, and was to be used to pay creditors.

Siegrist Determination

Rossato said in the affidavit that the directors abused the Siegrist Determination as the reason for not paying the outstanding taxes.

Fais Ombud Nolantu Bam handed down the Siegrist Determination last year. Of all the determinations she handed down, it is the most controversial one, that not only held Siegrist’s financial advisor liable for his losses, but also the individual Sharemax directors.

The directors are appealing this judgment.

Rossato contends that Myburgh, the chairman of the Nova Group of Companies, said Sharemax couldn’t pay the amount to Sars due to approximately 500 new complaints lodged at the Ombud following the Siegrist Determination and because the appeal process against the determination has not been completed.

Rossato labeled this position as a “disingenuous abuse of the Siegrist Determination as a reason for the non-payment of the first respondent’s (Sars) debt.”

In total, approximately 2000 of the total 33 000 investors have lodged complaints against their financial advisors regarding investments in Sharemax.

Termination of rescue proceedings

As part of the liquidation process, Sars also applied for the termination of the rescue proceedings for Sharemax Investments, as the requirements for business rescue had not been fulfilled. Van der Merwe was appointed as the rescue practitioner in December 2011 and has since not filed a rescue plan, which according to the Companies Act should have been done within 25 days of his appointment.

Van der Merwe also used the Siegrist Determination as a shield for his non-compliance. Rossato said that this approach was “equally disingenuous”, as the Siegrist Determination was handed down on January 29 last year, more than a year after Van der Merwe’s appointment.


Sharemax and the directors have still not filed their answer to the liquidation application but instead filed a notice for joinder of Siegrist, alleging that Sars failed to include Siegrist as a respondent in their application. They contend that the application is “defective”, as Siegrist’s claim would be prejudiced if Sars’ application is successful. At most Siegrist will be a future creditor in the liquidation of Sharemax.

Topics: South African Revenue Service, Sars, Sharemax, Nova Group, business rescue

Sunday, October 12, 2014

SARS bugged Zuma

No Crime No Corruption In South Africa - Zuma

Piet Rampedi, Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Stephan Hofstatter and Malcolm Rees | 12 October, 2014 09:16

A former spy master blackmailed the South African Revenue Service into paying him R3-million to keep silent about how its rogue intelligence unit broke into Jacob Zuma's private home in Forest Town, Johannesburg, and planted listening devices.

At the time Zuma was unemployed after he had been fired as deputy president. He was in the running for the ANC presidency and had just been acquitted on a rape charge.
The spy master, known as "Skollie", whose real name is known to the Sunday Times, was the head of SARS's covert Special Projects Unit, later renamed the National Research Group.
Documents seen by the Sunday Times and SARS officials who spoke on condition of anonymity claim that the unit also intercepted a meeting between Zuma and SARS executive Leonard Radebe at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Durban ahead of the ANC's 2007 Polokwane conference.
The unit was established in 2007 when Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan was the commissioner at SARS.
The unit specialised in penetrating crime syndicates engaged in smuggling cigarettes, drugs, rhino horn and ivory.
A senior intelligence official confirmed this week that the cabinet security cluster had independently established that a bug had been planted in Zuma's house.
The unit is now the subject of three separate probes by the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence, the Hawks and SARS itself.
The unit's existence and alleged targeting of politicians aligned to Zuma in the run-up to Polokwane has been reported on before.
But, based on access to confidential minutes of unit meetings, internal memos, e-mails and reports, and interviews with former and current unit members, the Sunday Times can reveal for the first time that:
Evidence exists that the unit illegally intercepted the e-mails and phone calls of taxpayers;
SARS flouted its own policies to secretly recruit agents;
Agents were paid from a secret cost centre;
SARS provided agents with new identity documents with new names; and
Agents conducted physical surveillance and "house infiltrations" to spy on taxpayers.
These actions are illegal as they violate the National Strategic Intelligence Act, which says only South Africa's military, police and intelligence structures are allowed to gather covert intelligence.
A National Intelligence Agency report on "irregularities taking place at SARS" dated December 15 2009, and seen by the Sunday Times, states that the unit "conducted surveillance activities, house infiltrations and comprehensive security checks on the identified targets".
SARS vehemently denies the unit was involved in mail intercepts and phone tapping.
However, proof that the unit intercepted phone calls and e-mails is contained in WhatsApp discussions, seen by Sunday Times reporters, between SARS enforcement head Johann van Loggerenberg and his former lover, Pretoria-based attorney Belinda Walter. Both Walter and Van Loggerenberg made the messages available to the Sunday Times.
At the time the pair were romantically involved - while she represented a number of high-profile tobacco producers under investigation by Van Loggerenberg.
In a WhatsApp sent to Walter on January 14, Van Loggerenberg writes: "We are running plenty lines. More lines mean more data to sift."
Referring to one of Walter's former clients, Van Loggerenberg indicates that "their lines are super-hot".
He also copied e-mailed questions received by the same client from a journalist in WhatsApp discussions. Asked how he obtained the information, Van Loggerenberg replies: "Intercepted."
On another occasion he refers to his "watcher and listener ladies [who] don't waste time to draft reports for me on personal stuff".
Memos show the unit was set up by deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay in February 2007 when he managed SARS's enforcement and risk division. Its 26 agents included SARS enforcement officials and operatives and investigators drawn from the Scorpions, NIA and military special forces.
Agents received training in mobile, electronic and physical surveillance, house penetration and phone and mail interception at a conference centre in Montana near Pretoria.
Weekly meetings were held at a guest house in Brooklyn, Pretoria, and agents worked from private homes, cafés and restaurants. A memo sent from the unit's data analyst on May 14 2008 outlines "rules of play" that include "group is not known" and "cost centre is not known".
SARS chief strategy officer Pete Richer, a former NIA executive, recruited "Skollie" from the NIA, and he in turn head-hunted agents from intelligence structures.
According to the minutes of a meeting on June 12 2008, Pillay gave its leaders "verbal instruction not to follow the normal policies and procedures" in recruiting agents.
Skollie had a falling-out with SARS management and decided to leave. He demanded a large payout for his silence. After Skollie left SARS, Van Loggerenberg managed the unit.
Minutes show that two months after Skollie was paid the R3-million, SARS warned unit members that "contact with Skollie must be broken completely. Any contact must be authorised. If he makes contact it must be reported in writing via unit leaders to Mr Pillay."
A SARS memo dated March 28 2008 shows Skollie's payout was disguised as a payoff for the remainder of his three-year contract plus R87000 in "accrued leave pay".
Pillay and disgraced former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashule, who was then the general manager for corporate services, signed off on the payment.
A former unit staff member said the money was Skollie's "silence cheque" after he fell out with SARS top brass.
"The division created conflict and [Van Loggerenberg] came in as a mediator and finally [Skollie] was fired but not before he threatened to expose the unit and was offered a 'silence cheque' and the unit members [were] warned to cut all ties and communication with him," the former member said.
Contacted this week, Skollie declined to comment.
Radebe, whose phone was tapped and meeting with Zuma bugged, and former SARS executive George Nkadimeng, who brokered Skollie's deal, later died in separate car crashes.
Former staff members added that Van Loggerenberg told the meeting the entity was "created because the commissioner [Gordhan] himself envisaged a unit that would obtain and understand things related to the illicit economy that cannot be obtained through the normal means".
SARS had realised it needed "information from NIA and the [police] crime intelligence units but these departments were faced with some problems that made the exchange of information difficult".
SARS spent millions of rands on equipment for the unit. According to the minutes, the unit requested R546-million from Pillay to buy CCTV cameras, binoculars and portal radios, among other equipment.
Van Loggerenberg and Gordhan refused to answer detailed questions and referred all inquiries to SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay.
Lackay confirmed the existence of the National Research Group, but denied it was involved in covert intelligence gathering.
"SARS has been aware of numerous attempts to tarnish its reputation by, among others, alleging the existence of an illegal covert unit - the NRG," said Lackay.
"SARS has never had a covert intelligence unit and has never bugged any telephones. SARS does not have and never had the capability to intercept communications or to conduct illegal covert operations."
Lackay conceded that SARS paid Skollie a sum of money but denied it bought his silence over the bugging of Zuma's home.
"SARS did not pay [Skollie] to leave his post or to 'shut up and disappear'," he said.
"We are not in a position to divulge the money details of the contract as this constitutes confidential information to the taxpayer. The contract was terminated early due to personal reasons relating to [Skollie] that resulted in [both parties] agreeing on a final contract settlement amount payable," he added.
Lackay said "the NRG was never involved in any illegal activities including the 'bugging' of Mr Zuma's house".
He said the WhatsApps between Van Loggerenberg and Walter were "private conversations in which he deliberately lied to his girlfriend at the time".
Van Loggerenberg would explain this to the SARS investigation and the inspector-general of intelligence.


Comments by Sonny

Yes, the ex Bosses of SARS/banks/insurance  companies, churches just go on to corrupt the rest of civil Society.
Newspapers would not get sold if it wasn't for Zuma and his cronies!
Who fathered that DEMON?
South Africa is on the downward spiral!