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Ex-Sars officials accused of spying: 'NPA displays clear bias, malice'

Ivan Pillay, Johan van Loggerenberg and Andries Janse van Rensburg have been charged in connection with a project dubbed ‘Sunday Evenings’, that included spying on the Scorpions.

Ivan Pillay, Johan van Loggerenberg (pictured) and Andries Janse van Rensburg have been charged in connection with spying on the Scorpions a decade ago. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

PRETORIA - The lawyers representing three former South African Revenue Services (Sars) officials charged with allegedly spying on the Scorpions say the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has consistently demonstrated a clear bias and malice towards their clients.

Ivan Pillay, Johan van Loggerenberg and Andries Janse van Rensburg have been charged in connection with a project dubbed ‘Sunday Evenings’.

Both Pillay and Van Loggerenberg were implicated in the now discredited reports about a unit within Sars which was unlawfully spying on people.

Werksmans Attorneys’ Bernard Hotz says this alleged bias appears to have been driven by Sars commissioner Tom Moyane.

“It actually unbelievable to say the least. The case number is the very same case number going back to 2015 where the complaint is none other than Mr Moyane on behalf of Sars, and we saw what happened last year with the attempted prosecution of Mr Gordhan.”

At the height of the investigations into Jackie Selebi and as political pressure mounted on the Scorpions, several Sars officials are alleged to have bugged the elite unit’s offices.

Pillay and Van Rensburg are accused of hiring Helgard Lombard to spy on the scorpions at their NPA offices in Silverton between June and November 2007.

Selebi was charged in September of that year.

Pillay and Van Loggerenberg are further accused of paying Lombard R100,000 for his services.

CONFIDENT OF VINDICATION

The former officials say they are confident the evidence at their disposal will vindicate them.

Hotz says the charges against his clients aren’t new and when his clients offered to make representation to the NPA, they were ignored.

“These particular charges were never ever put to them at that stage. This goes back to 2007/2008 -that time-period. Nothing’s changed.”

Hotz says his clients deny the allegations and rely on their evidence to vindicate them.

“My clients have full faith in the integrity of the legal system and they intend to, at the appropriate time, produce the evidence which will illustrate that there is no merit.”

He says the trio is disappointed but not surprised in the behaviour of the NPA.

The trio is scheduled to appear in court on 9 April.

Meanwhile, Freedom Under Law says it is disappointed in the National Prosecuting Authority’s move to charge three former senior Sars officials after failing to make similar charges against the trio stick almost two years ago.

Freedom Under Law’s Judge Johann Kriegler says he still believes the charges have no merit.

“Once again and for very much the same reason, we do not believe that the charges are valid. They’ve never confronted these gentlemen with a suggestion of these charges.”

Kriegler says he is disappointed at these developments.

“It does seem very disappointing that we haven’t closed that book.”