Zuma’s long war against SARS: report

The move by the Hawks to target former SARS officials – including finance minister Pravin Gordhan – is just the latest in a long battle to discredit the revenue service’s investigations into corruption, where the Zuma family is involved.

This is according to a Rapport exclusive, based on excerpts from a new book – Rogue: The inside story of SARS’s elite crime unit – that will be published soon.

The book, authored by one of the former officials being investigated, details how a well-orchestrated campaign to have the SARS unit branded as illegal and “rogue” started as soon as it began investigating dodgy practices in the tobacco industry.

At least two companies – not mentioned in the book, but identified by Rapport as PFC Integration and Amalgamated Tobacco Manufacturing – have strong ties to president Zuma through his son Edward, and nephew, Khulubuse.

Author Johann van Loggerenberg has previously noted that it was publicly stated as far back as 2014 that the attacks on SARS and the investigative unit were driven by people associated with the tobacco industry.

British American Tobacco was also implicated in the matter, and is also speculated to have had a hand in targeting the SARS unit.

According to the Rapport, things at SARS started changing rapidly once the investigative unit caught wind of the corrupt activities.

This ultimately led to the unit being branded as rogue and illegal – with the help of the Sunday Times, which was fed selective information about the unit, leading to false claims of legality being made.

The press ombudsman ruled against the Sunday Times in December 2015 and forced the paper to retract its stories on the matter. One of the key errors in the Sunday Times’ reporting was that the unit was set up illegally. It later conceded it got that fact wrong.

The next piece of the puzzle came in current SARS head, Tom Moyane, who is seen as a Zuma ally, and the person who initiated the current Hawks investigation into finance minister Pravin Gordhan, van Loggerenberg himself and other former SARS officials.

In the 19 months Moyane has been in charge of SARS – the same year the tobacco investigations were brought to light – over 50 officials and investigators have been pushed out, or pushed to resign, the paper said.

The full report, and early excerpts of the book, can be read in the Rapport for 18 September 2016

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Zuma’s long war against SARS: report