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Drama unfolds at Press Ombudsman's Sunday Times hearing

Judge Frank Kroon says he cannot comment on allegations that Rudolph Mastenbroek was the source.

Picture: Sars

JOHANNESBURG - Judge Frank Kroon says claims that a member of the commission he headed into the South African Revenue Service (Sars) was the original source of the Sunday Times claims of a rogue spy unit, are allegations, and he doesn't want to comment on allegations.

On Tuesday, at the Press Ombudsman hearing, it emerged former Sunday Times reporter Pearlie Joubert had said under oath that advocate Rudolph Mastenbroek had claimed back in 2013, he wanted to place stories claiming former Sars deputy head Ivan Pillay and the unit's head Johann van Loggerenberg were protecting the African National Congress (ANC).

The Press Ombudsman is holding a hearing into the Sunday Times conduct .

Mastenbroek was then appointed to the Kroon Commission that endorsed findings that led to Pillay and van Loggerenberg leaving Sars.

Mastenbroek says he would prefer not to comment at this stage about the issues raised in the hearing.

But in her affidavit, Joubert says she became very concerned when she realised he was on the Kroon commission, because he had indicated to her in 2013 that he was biased against both Pillay and van Loggerenberg.

He is also the ex-husband of then Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt.

At the same time, the newspaper says Joubert was removed from the story because she had said she believed van Loggerenberg would not be involved in any wrongdoing.

The paper says her belief doesn't make it a fact that the unit was acting legally under his leadership.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times says Mastenbroek is not the source of its claims about a rogue spy unit at Sars.

Joubert says she was first approached by Mastenbroek about trying to plant stories in the paper from 2013.

She says he wanted to implicated Pillay and van Loggerenberg in protecting the ANC.

The Sunday Times however says its reporting team avoided dealing with Mastenbroek because of its prior relationship with Oppelt.

Mastenbroek has told Eyewitness News he has no comment to make at this stage.

There's also no comment yet from Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on Mastenbroek ended up being on the Kroon commission.

This means the finance minister may now face questions about why he appointed Mastenbroek and whether the process he instituted to investigate Sars was properly independent.