Despite documents showing that allegations of a rogue intelligence unit had been refuted by the South African Revenue Services, Tom Moyane says he won’t fold his hands while the company is facing this challenge.
“It will be complicit of me ‘to fold hands’ when the organisation is facing this challenging test. My sole purpose is to determine the veracity of the numerous disturbing allegations that have been raised in a number of media articles and to establish if indeed there was a ‘rogue intelligence unit’ operating outside of the SARS mandate.
“As I said to you before, the finding of the Sikhakhane panel and other reports at my disposal is that there is, prima facie, a case to be answered regarding the rogue unit and its activity, hence it is fair that those responsible for the establishment and the leadership of the unit must account.
“My sole objective is to get to the bottom of these allegations and ensure that SARS operates within the framework of the law and remains the organisation which we can all be proud of,” he sad.
Top officials in Sars, Ivan Pillay and Peter Richer were suspended by Moyane based on the recommendation of the Sikhakhane panel of inquiry, initially set up by Pillay himself to investigate allegations against Sars’s head of investigations, Johann van Loggerenberg, that he had conducted illegal surveillance on his estranged lover and others, and had disclosed confidential taxpayer information.
However, documents seen by the Mail & Guardian‘s Amabhungane team suggest that the claims of a rogue unit only gained purchase after Moyane took over in September and appointed to his position by President Jacob Zuma.
This is when the panel expanded its own mandate to investigate the establishment and legality of the so-called national research group (NRG), following media reports about the existence of an alleged rogue unit in Sars.
Accept court’s ruling
Pillay’s suspension was overturned by the labour court on Thursday December 18, and in his email to staff, Moyane said “SARS will abide by the court’s ruling”, and the organsation will always apply policies fairly to all employees, regardless of the level of position.
Sars also agreed to revoke Richer’s suspension.
“The suspension of Senior Officials was motivated by the recommendation of the Sikhakhane report amongst others and my understanding that it would provide the space for the formal processes to proceed during which they would have had the opportunity to put their cases before a properly constituted disciplinary panel.
“As part of our disciplinary policy and procedure, SARS will continuously apply policies fairly and consistently across all SARS employees irrespective of their levels.
“I have noted the decision of the Labour Court of Wednesday and Thursday to overturn the suspensions in order to afford the Senior Officials extended opportunity to state why they should not be suspended. SARS will abide by the court’s ruling.”
Pillay said in his affidavit at the labout court on Thursday that he raised his concerns about the Sikhakhane report when Moyane suspended him.
“I said to him that I had given him my written response to the Sikhakhane report and asked him if he had read it. He told me that he did not read it and that he would not read it, as it was just my opinion,” said Pillay.
But Moyane said he had the best interest of Sars, and acted in good faith.
“The events that have unfolded in the past few weeks are undoubtedly a cause for concern to everyone connected with this proud organisation. I am fully aware that for staff this period is particularly unsettling. I want to remind you that when I joined SARS I clearly stated that I will not allow any culture of flouting laws and rogue activities under my watch.
“I want to therefore assure you that I have acted in good faith and done what I deemed to be in the best interest of SARS.”
He wanted staff to focus rather on the mandate of Sars, which is “to serve its citizens and to the success of our young democracy”.
“SARS has a proud heritage and a strong reputation for efficiency. Let us all focus on building on this and ensuring that we continuously raise the bar in our quest and successfully tackle and overcome any challenges we encounter.
“I ask that we all remember our commitment to the organisation, the country and our most important stakeholder, the taxpayer.”