Taxmen's braai with prostitutes 'not a brothel'
The man accused of running a brothel for the South African Revenue Services yesterday admitted he went with fellow tax officials to "a braai" attended by prostitutes at a Chinese informer's house in Durban. Former Scorpions investigator and SARS rogue unit member Fanie Bothma denied he had run a brothel, as claimed in an internal SARS memo."I wish I had one - then I don't need to be in SARS," the tax official said jokingly.He also denied running a brothel as part of a covert intelligence-gathering operation for the Scorpions to infiltrate Chinese drug-trafficking syndicates, as alleged by an ex-colleague. "I never ran a brothel. Not for the Scorpions. Not for SARS - not for nobody.story_article_left1This whole story has been ripped out of context completely. We had one braai. It was at a Chinese informer's house," he said.He admitted there were prostitutes at the "braai" but said he had had "nothing to do with" procuring them.After the SARS rogue unit scandal erupted last year, its members were instructed to write memos to their management to explain their actions.The memos - obtained by the Sunday Times - were submitted to an independent panel appointed to investigate the unit. The panel is chaired by Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane.Rogue unit member Dillo Nyaphudi's memo, dated October 14 2014, includes a section headed "risks identified" that lists "issues that made me uncomfortable". Topping the list is the item "Brothel".Nyaphudi said the unit's commander, Andries "Skollie" Janse van Rensburg, had instructed his agents to devise ways to cover up their activities "as we were working from home and the neighbours were suspicious". Nyaphudi told his neighbours he was on suspension with full pay.He said Bothma, who is based in Durban, "opened a club/ brothel"."I came to know about this as he was pestering one of our colleagues, Mike Peega, for the 'two blondes' money'," he said. "It transpired that Mike took two prostitutes from Fanie's club to his hotel and did not pay. Fanie also arranged prostitutes for other members when they visited Durban."Nyaphudi said he was "very much unhappy about the brothel as a SARS employee was also pimping young women" .In November 2014, the Sunday Times put the allegations to Peega - who declined to comment - but was unable to reach Bothma and Nyaphudi. None was named in a story the newspaper published that month under the headline "Taxman's rogue unit ran a brothel".story_article_right2Peega subsequently confirmed in a frank interview that he had picked up two women at a "party" at what he said was Bothma's house in Durban for "a night of passion". He denied they were prostitutes."Fanie had a townhouse, there by the sea. There were three or four girls. We didn't know them. I took two home. Sometimes it's about the company - not the sex. I never paid for anything. No one ever asked me for money. There was no dispute."Peega said the house "could have been a safe house" as Bothma occupied it by himself. "There were no wife and kids."Bothma disputed this. "We never had safe houses. Everybody knows Peega is a liar. Where they got the prostitutes from - they must explain that."Bothma said he could not understand why Nyaphudi would have stated in an official memo that he had run a "brothel/club". "Dillo said a lot of things. Just because he said it doesn't mean it's the truth."Nyaphudi could not be reached for comment.sub_head_start TIMELINE sub_head_endAugust 10 2014: The Sunday Times exposes the rogue unit.September 23 2014: Tom Moyane appointed South African Revenue Service commissioner.November 5 2014: The Sikhakhane report is released, confirming a rogue unit was operating within SARS.March 19 2015: Finance minister appoints retired judge Frank Kroon to head SARS advisory committee.April 28 2015: Kroon tells media SARS broke the law by setting up the unit, which had committed unlawful acts.May 7 2015: Deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay resigns from SARS.September 3 2015: KPMG's explosive report confirms that the rogue unit was spying on taxpayers illegally, including intercepting their firstname.lastname@example.org..