Sars threatens M&G over story
Sars has threatened to sue the M&G over the publishing of an amaBhungane story that lawyers say was "clearly in the public interest" and "lawful".
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has threatened to criminally pursue the Mail & Guardian for last week’s article Sars wars: Moyane’s empire strikes back.
The M&G quoted key insiders accusing tax commissioner Tom Moyane and others of grabbing control of a key division dealing with large corporations and wealthy individuals.
It described claims that Moyane’s second-in-command, Jonas Makwakwa, had previously clashed with executives over his engagements with taxpayers.
Sars’s lawyer, David Maphakela, demanded a retraction and an apology. He said the M&G contravened the Tax Administration Act by “unlawfully disclosing taxpayer information” and that the article was “littered with falsity, inaccuracy, unfairness, distortion and misrepresentation of facts”.
M&G lawyer Dario Milo responded that the article was “clearly in the public interest and its publication was lawful”.
He invited Sars to answer the M&G’s questions, which have been ignored for two weeks, and said “in the circumstances” the paper declined to apologise and retract.
Maphakela responded: “[The M&G’s] ... defence of public interest as a panacea to justify the publication, illustrates ... [an]unfathomable misdirection of the law.”
He said: “Our client will proceed to exercise its rights in law, including civil and criminal proceedings.”
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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.