by The Black Eye
Last week retired Judge Kroon was the latest victim of Pravin Gordhan’s intimidation squad. Kroon’s woes follow many people who have lost jobs and whose careers have been destroyed after they found that there was an unlawful unit at SARS during his tenure as Commissioner. Kroon sensationally recanted his finding at the Nugent Commission that indeed there was a rogue unit at SARS.
Sources who asked not to be named and who are close to Judge Kroon say that his life has been made a living hell ever since he had found that indeed there was a rogue unit at SARS during Gordhans’ time. These sources say the recanting of Judge Kroon was not voluntary – the judge had been systematically intimidated ever since he found that there was a rogue unit SARS.
Almost all people and institutions which have investigated the Rogue Unit have been intimidated so severerly that some had to change houses and many others have had their careers destroyed. Ironically, the first investigation on the unit was commissioned by one of its founders and close friends of Gordhan, Ivan Pillay. Under his supervision he commissioned acting Judge Muzi Sikhakhane and two others to investigate the rumour of the existence of the unlawful unit. The Sunday Times ran a two-years long investigation of the rogue unit.
Pillay had underestimated Skhakhane and thought he could be intimidated and pressured into whitewashing the rogue unit through this investigation. Things started to go wrong when the Sikhakhane investigation found that there were reasons to believe that an illegal unit in fact exists at SARS. Sikhakhane recommended that a forensic investigation be undertaken. KPMG was hired by SARS to do this forensic investigation.
Parallel to the KPMG process, the then Minister of Finance under whom SARS falls, yes the same Nhlanhla Nene and his then deputy Mcebisi Jonas, set up a panel on the rogue unit, under judge Kroon.
In his capacity as the Chairperson of the panel at SARS and upon receiving a preliminary report from KPMG based on the Sikhakhane findings, Judge Kroon’s panel issued a statement confirming the existance of the rogue unit.
Pravin Gordhan’s thugs started a massive and nasty fight back outside the law.
The rogue had now gone rogue.
First they attacked Muzi Sikhakhane: he was harrassed and threatened to a point that he had to change houses. Next was the Sunday Times editor and senior investigative journalists: the editor was forced to resign and Piet Rampedi, who was one of the leading investigative journalists, also was pressured to leave the Sunday Times.
The paper had been reporting for over two years on the rogue unit. Sources say, Pravin Godhan had sent his goons to intimidate the paper and demand they apologise. The editor and journalists stood their ground. They came under heavy attack, but at the same time Sunday Times was facing a financial strain.
In comes Pravin Gordhan’s friend, Johann Rupert, with money bags and the owners of the paper were happy to let go of the editor and to apologise to Gordhan and get rid of the journalists. The paper, now under the new editor who has no balls to face Gordhan, even withdrew the appeal against the ruling by the inept and pliant Press Ombudsman!
In the interving period, Johann Rupert was awarded the businessman of the decade award by the Sunday Times. All the people who had been involved with investigating the rogue unit had to take cover. The hounding of the journalists has not stopped. Rampedi has retreated to Limpopo were he runs a regional paper. Stefan Hoffstater has just released a book that seeks to whitewash his role as one of the investigators of the rogue unit for Sunday Times. When he launched the book a shadowy fake civil society group known to have been founded by Gordhan’s friends staged an agressive protest against Hoffstater – they want him to apologise and his colleagues in the media also demand the same. Poor Hoffstater knows the truth but its clear he is now caving under pressure – just like Judge Kroon was forced to change his mind on the rogue unit because of massive intimidation and harrasment by unknown people. Sources say Kroon has been receiving threatening calls: he has been followed and monitored.
The Judge now wants peace, hence his statement at the Nugent commission a few weeks ago.
The SARS executive, Luder Lebelo, also corroborated the claim that people who have worked on the rogue unit get roughed up. Lebelo like Sikhakhane, like the editor of Sunday Times, like the journalists, like Judge Kroon has been a victim of rogues that sources say are Pravin Gordhan’s men.
Apparently when Gordhan can’t get his way via the legal system or through his media paratroopers, he sends in the rogues to do the job the rogue way.
The role of the media in covering up the rogue unit is dishonorouble. The Sunday Times journalists who all have sterling careers as investigative journalists have been turned into pariahs in the industry.
Hoffstater’s book has been followed by protests and demands that he completely renounce his work on the rogue unit. The pressure is not only from shadowy civil society organisations but also from fellow journalists. Pearlie Jourbert, another rogue unit Sunday Times journalist, has been thrown under the bus. Her career is now almost non-existent. Piet Rampedi is out in the cold in Limpopo. The former editor of Sunday Times is also considered a persona non grata in media circles.
The established rule in the mainstream media is never to touch Pravin Gordhan whilst attacking his political enemies mercilessly – that’s the new rule of South African journalism.
After finishing off the journalists and the Sunday Times editor who had been investigating the rogue unit and having more or less done enough dirty work on both Sikhakhane and Kroon, Gordhan’s goons now set their eyes on Rudolf Mastenbroek,
the former head of investigation at SARS and a man who was cajoled into serving on the Kroon panel.
Mastenbroek now regrets deeply why he ever agreed to serve on the Kroon panel. The Gordhan boys are now under his skin like a bad rash. The main sin of Mastenbroek is that he was accused of being the source of the Sunday Times story. What made him the prime suspect is the fact that he is the ex-husband of the now fired Sunday Times editor. Gordhan’s goons believe that he was the one feeding the Sunday Times inside information about the rogue unit. It is important to note that Mastenbroek was recalled after he had left SARS to serve on the Kroon panel. It looks like Mcebnisi Jonas and Gordhan had miscalculated. They were hoping he would help them clear the rogue unit saga. This didn’t happen. Hence they turned on him and accused him of being the source of the Sunday Times rogue unit story.
Last week, Mastenbroek, now following a well-developed pattern of intimidation and threats, wrote a pathetic apology to Gordhan. Writing in Mail and Guardian, he said: “I have never doubted Gordhan’s personal integrity. The suggestion that I spread rumours about him being corrupt is entirely baseless and malicious”. Like Judge Kroon, it is clear Mastenbroek wants peace and that peace comes with denying the existence of the rogue unit and apologising to Gordhan.
There is an unwitting revelation in the Mastenbroek pathetic apologia when he writes, “[t]he “rogue unit” issue has been a cause of much division. It has strained relations, tarnished reputations and terminated careers.” He then makes a final appeal to the goons to stay away from him. He says, “[a]lthough the wound continues to fester, I look forward to its eventual healing and closure, not only for my own sake but also for everyone who has been affected by this”.
Grovelling never looked so pathetic.
We can assure Mastenbroek that Gordhan will not rest until there is total and complete victory. The political legitimation of reclaiming complete hegemony over the economy by men like Johann Rupert who were scared by the Guptas depends on it.
As we have shown, Kroon is not the first or last victim of Gordhan’s thugs who operates outside the law. The Black Eye will in the next few days publish another piece of investigative journalism on the rogue unit focusing on how KPMG have become the victims of the dirty tactics of Pravin Gordhan’s mafia group, as well as the role of the media and in particular Daily Maverick which is the propaganda arm of the Gordhan rogue cartel.
Judge Kroon didn’t recant out of his own volition. He was forced by thugs to change his story on the rogue unit. He spoke under duress and the media knows it.
Later in the week Pravin Gordhan will appear before Judge Zondo where he will present himself as a saviour of SA. Those who know the truth know that Gordhan is only protecting his elaborate business interests which intersect with those of White Monopoly Capital. There shall come a time when Gordhan’s victims will be brave enough to speak, including Judge Kroon.
That time is not too far off.
*The Black Eye will be contributing investigative pieces to Black Opinion. She is an industry insider.