Court overturns Pillay's suspension from Sars

A Labour Court judge ordered that Ivan Pillay return to work and Sars was also ordered to pay costs. (Gallo)

A Labour Court judge ordered that Ivan Pillay return to work and Sars was also ordered to pay costs. (Gallo)

Labour Court Judge Annelie Basson has ordered the South African Revenue Services (Sars) to reinstate suspended deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay with immediate effect, ruling that the suspension was unlawful and in breach of his employee contract.

“The suspension of the applicant was unlawful. The prejudice that [Pillay] is suffering resulting from his public suspension causes significant prejudice to him as a result of the infringement of his rights,” Basson said.

Pillay was suspended on December 5 by newly appointed commissioner Tom Moyane following an investigation into an alleged “rogue” unit operating within the tax services.

Pillay this week challenged his suspension in court.

In his founding affidavit, read out in court, Pillay said he had been called into Moyane’s office and told of his suspension based on a report of an investigation conducted into the unit by a panel headed by senior counsel Muzi Sikhakhane.

Not under investigation
This morning, Basson said it was clear from the Sikhakhane Report that Pillay was not under investigation and adverse findings had not been made against him.

“Sars conceded that Pillay was not given written notice of its intention to suspend him ... Every employee, irrespective of their position or seniority has the right ... not to be subjected to unfair labour practices.”

“Sars acted in breach of the contract when it issued the suspension notice without complying with the Suspension Policy,” she said.

Can’t ignore media exposure
While Basson ruled that the “fairness” of the suspension was for the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration to decide, it was clear the Moyane was not interested in reading Pillay’s response to the Sikhakhane Report.

“There are no allegations on the papers to the effect that the suspension was necessary in order to prevent him from interfering with witnesses or that [Pillay] will interfere with any pending investigations,” she said.

Basson said the court could also not ignore the considerable media exposure Pillay, who is “the second most senior” Sars employee, has undergone since his suspension.

Sars was also ordered to pay the legal fee for one of Pillay’s lawyers.

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See for our stories, activities and funding sources.



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