The police, including the Hawks, are not aware of any complaints surrounding Project Snowman and Project Broken Arrow – two projects of the so-called “rogue unit” at the SA Revenue Service, cited as alleged evidence of wrongdoing against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
This is according to a parliamentary reply released this week.
DA MP Okkie Terblanche had asked Police Minister Bheki Cele if police have ever “investigated the allegations delivered to them by SARS pertaining to Project Snowman and Project Broken Arrow in 2010 and in 2014”.
A very brief response, signed off by Cele and national police commissioner Khehla Sitole, reads: “The South African Police Service (SAPS), including the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), is not aware of Project Snowman or Project Broken Arrow, purportedly having been delivered by the South African Revenue Service, in 2010 and 2014, respectively.”
Project Broken Arrow and Project Snowman are intelligence dossiers that sought to discredit former SARS enforcement executive Johann van Loggerenberg, former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and Gordhan by accusing them of running a “rogue unit” in the tax agency, which allegedly used covert intelligence-gathering methods to target individuals seen to be close to former president Jacob Zuma, News24 reported previously.
The dossiers were written by former SARS official Michael Peega.
He was a member of the high risk investigations unit that became known as the “rogue unit” – but was dismissed from SARS after being implicated in a rhino poaching case, Fin24 reported.
In February 2010, the Snowman dossier found its way to then ANC youth league leader, Julius Malema, who falsely claimed it was a National Intelligence Agency (now the State Security Agency) document and that he is a victim of an alleged SARS’ “anti-Zuma” agenda.
In early 2010, the intelligence authority launched an investigation into the claims in the Project Snowman dossier, and later found no wrongdoing.
No report was ever handed to SARS, Fin24 reported.
The allegations against the unit came into the public domain in 2014 through a series of exposés by the Sunday Times. The allegations have been largely discredited since and the Sunday Times would later apologise for aspects of the reports.
However, the Snowman reared its head again in Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report which found that the rogue unit was established illegally and did illicit covert intelligence gathering operations, with Gordhan and Pillay to blame.
News24 found that the dossiers were apparently part of the evidence Mkhwebane relied upon in her report, and that sections of the Snowman dossier are presented in her report as part of a complaint by another former SARS official, also to the Public Protector, but in 2014.
The former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, conducted an investigation, but seemingly was satisfied with the responses from SARS, and never made any findings.
The Hawks investigated another dossier – Project Sunday Evenings – which is based on similar accusations contained in the Snowman and Broken Arrow dossiers. It was in this investigation that the Hawks sent Gordhan the infamous 27 questions in 2016.
Pillay, Van Loggerenberg and Andries Janse van Rensburg have been the subject of a long-standing court case on this matter, but new National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi has said she will review the decision to prosecute them.
Their case has been postponed to October 14 and will be heard in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.