Taxman Ivan Pillay battles Sars for his job

South African Revenue Services (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, who has been suspended for allegedly setting up a “rogue unit” within the tax office, has taken his fight to overturn his suspension to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Like suspended Hawks head Anwa Dramat, Pillay was allegedly investigating cases linked to figures associated with President Jacob Zuma.

Pillay wants the CCMA to decide on the fairness of his suspension. He has also applied for compensation for what the Labour Court found was an unlawful suspension.

A day after Labour Court Judge Annelie Basson ordered that he be reinstated immediately, he was suspended again, along with other top managers. There was concern from Sars that he would tamper with evidence.

Newly appointed commissioner Tom Moyane said an independent panel had found that the unit, known as the National Research Group, had been trying to play an intelligence role. 

But, after reading the report by a panel headed by advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, Basson found that Pillay was not under investigation and adverse findings had not been made against him. She said Sars had not followed procedure because they had not provided Pillay with a suspension notice.

Pillay and Sars were in conciliation discussions for the whole day on Thursday at the CCMA.

Unit was suppose to ‘limit’ investigations
Pillay faces a number of charges. Among them are that he established, or recommended, or was instrumental in setting up a covert intelligence unit in Sars, and that he knew the unit was unconstitutional and infringed on the powers of state intelligence.

He is also accused of fraudulently contriving his early retirement, allegedly with the knowledge of then finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Approached for comment, Pillay said that he was not allowed to speak to the media. He was given a suspension letter on December 19, which said he had until January 12 to show why he should not be suspended.

Sars has had to withdraw charges against strategic and planning head Peter Richer, pending further investigation into the unit.

Allegations about the unit had been circulating for some time. Pillay insists that the unit had been approved at the highest level.

In 2007 Gordhan allegedly approved a request to fund special capabilities in the National Intelligence Agency to partner with Sars. The minister is believed to have known that Sars on its own lacked the mandate or capability to perform such a function.

The proviso, however, was that Sars would limit its investigations to taxpayers and customs and excise clients.

The CCMA hearing was adjourned until January 28. It was decided on Thursday to follow this route rather than going straight to arbitration.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday