Former SARS executive Johann van Loggerenberg has called for widespread changes to media regulations after his career at the revenue service was tarnished following reports, which have since been debunked, that he was part of an illegal spying unit.

Van Loggerenberg made his submissions to the SA National Editors’ Forum inquiry into media ethics, according to a Daily Maverick report.

He wants journalists and publications to be held accountable when they report false news.

Van Loggerenberg was linked to the so-called ‘rogue unit’ allegations at SARS, which the media claimed was set up as an illegal spying unit under former Commissioner Pravin Gordhan. The stories were later debunked as false and part of a broad campaign to remove credible employees from SARS and hollow out its investigative units.

‘I have consistently denied every single adverse aspect, theme, allegation or claim that make up the original ‘rogue unit narrative’. I challenge every single journalist to publish evidence, not supposition and rumour, to prove otherwise after having afforded me a hearing and to reflect this,’ Van Loggerenberg wrote in his submission to Sanef’s inquiry into media ethics and credibility.

Sanef announced it was launching the inquiry, led by retired Judge Kathleen Satchwell, in October 2018 following the Sunday Times’ retraction and apologies for its reports on the ‘rogue unit’ and the so-called ‘Cato Manor Death Squad’.

Van Loggerenberg said the Sunday Times, with leaked false intelligence, was the primary driver of the ‘rogue unit’ narrative, but he also criticised City Press, Carte Blanche, The Sunday Independent, Noseweek, Newzroom Afrika, Radio 702 and Power FM for its reporting and commentary on the issue.

Full Daily Maverick report