An allegation of blackmail and covering up child abuse by a “paedophile masquerading as a journalist” has raised questions on whether the former Sars High Risk Investigation Unit (HRIU) – also known as the “rogue” unit – may have been involved in a cross-border operation.
Former Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika tweeted to his nearly 300,000 followers last week: “One day I am going to tell you a story about [a] paedophile, masquerading as a journalist, how he was caught in bed with an underage boy and also how the rogue unit is using that information to blackmail him to write whatever they want. I am not one of the generations of cowards.”
Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo told The Citizen he was not yet prepared to comment on the matter, while Sars noted through its media desk it was “not in a position to respond as it is not aware of the matters that have been referred to and would require further details in order to respond comprehensively”.
Wa Afrika’s allegation was seemingly confirmed by Pinky Khoabane of the blog Uncensored Opinion.
“I know this story. It happened in Mocambique [sic],” she tweeted.
Wa Afrika would only say the incident happened in Mozambique “a few years ago”.
He said: “I know of five other journalists, in South Africa, with the same information from their own independent sources.” He did not identify them.
Wa Afrika said: “I don’t know how [the rogue unit] got the information, this information isn’t classified but has been around for a few years. Although not in the public domain, one has to know the right people to get it.”
The claim of Sars employing an “apartheid spy” was first made by former Sunday Times journalist Malcolm Rees about former Sars group executive Johann van Loggerenberg who headed up the HRIU when the “rogue unit” narrative exploded.
“I have now on numerous occasions emphatically denied having ever been an ‘apartheid spy’,” Van Loggerenberg told The Citizen.
“This is a dangerous and defamatory label to anyone in South Africa. Those claiming this should please provide evidence in support thereof or stop the smearing.
“People with evidence of sexual abuse of children should not make vague claims on social media. Any rationally minded adult would immediately provide the evidence to the police. I again question why responsible adults would simply sit on such evidence and tweet about it. It is totally unacceptable behaviour in our society.”
Van Loggerenberg said that in 2007, the special projects unit, another name for the HRIU, assisted the police at their request to identify and trace a suspected child molester.
“I wrote about it in one of my books. He was immediately arrested by the police and brought before court. He was not ‘masquerading as a journalist’ nor ‘caught in bed with an underage boy’,” said Van Loggerenberg.
“He was harassing school girls at a local school. I’ve known all the unit members for many years. Not a single one would’ve kept quiet about any suspected paedophile activities. They would’ve ensured such people be brought to book immediately.”
He noted there was an “absolute moral and ethical duty on Mr Wa Afrika to immediately contact the police and ensure that the evidence he claims to have is handed over and investigated”.
Van Loggerenberg said: “Sexual violence and abuse against children are most heinous crimes in society. There are lines even journalists should not cross. Sexual abuse of children is one such line.”