Controversial businessman Adriano Mazzotti and his co-director, Kyle Phillips, have apologised to former South African Revenue Services (Sars) executive Johan van Loggerenberg for peddling misinformation regarding the so-called rogue unit.
Van Loggerenberg said he had received the formal written apology on October 31, via e-mail from the two directors of Carnilinx (Pty) Ltd, a local independent tobacco manufacturer.
He has since accepted the apology.
“I received private apologies and explanations from Mr Adriano Mazzotti during the writing of my recently published book Tobacco Wars, but never felt comfortable in publicly expressing them.
“Now that this apology has been sent to me unsolicited and of own accord on record, I have decided to accept it. I believe the time has come for our nation to move on and focus on rebuilding our nation and fixing the horrors of the past,” Van Loggerenberg said in a statement on Friday.
He added in order to do this we needed to reach out and help one another as a nation, regardless of religion, politics, disputes and disagreements and any other issue that might appear to separate ourselves from each other.
“We owe it to the next generation of our country.”
In the e-mail, Mazzotti wrote he and Phillips were led to believe by their then-legal representative that Van Loggerenberg was the mastermind behind a coordinated effort by various law enforcement agencies to close down their business by any means possible.
“This misinformation was sometimes reinforced by other lawyers and people in positions of authority, and we had no reason to doubt what was conveyed to me.
“At the time, we were often the targets of various dirty tricks, including the placement of illegal tracking devices on our vehicles, illegal surveillance devices and tactics, raids by unrelated authorities, etc. all incentivised and often funded, as we later found out, by multinational tobacco companies on a crusade to eliminate the competition.
“We were led to believe by people close to me at the time, who later turned out to be paid double agents, that you headed this onslaught against us and would not stop until our business was destroyed,” Mazzotti wrote.
He further stated that as a result he and Phillips had developed a negative attitude toward Van Loggerenberg and certain Sars officials.
“If by this Kyle and I caused any harm to you or any officials, we tender our sincere apologies.”
Mazzotti said when he had interacted Van Loggerenberg, he realised his primary goal was to regulate the industry and make sure all the role players – multinationals and independents – were compliant.
“In hindsight, I have come to realise that you were against SARS being part of those unsanctioned operations. During our interactions, you also said I was nothing like the person you had been led to believe I was, and that you appreciated my willingness and openness to settle any outstanding issues and to become fully compliant.”
The e-mail ended with Mazzotti saying Carnilinx had been the subject of numerous audits since 2014 and apart from certified administrative issues, had been found to be compliant.
Van Loggerenbeg along with his former colleagues – former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and former enforcement executive Andries “Skollie” Janse van Rensburg – recently appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in a case related to the so-called rogue unit.
The trio were charged with offences relating to the bugging of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) offices in 2007.
This became known as the “Sunday Evenings” project, in which the three men allegedly installed covert bugs in 2007 at the then-Scorpions and NPA head offices in Silverton, Pretoria.
Fin24 also reported that the bugs were installed by suspended Sars employee Helgard Lombard who turned state witness in the case. The case against the three was opened in March last year by axed Sars commissioner Tom Moyane.