Sars’ second in command Jonas Makwakwa suspended over mystery payments of R1.2m

Sars’ second in command Jonas Makwakwa has just been suspended.

Commissioner Tom Moyane circulated an internal note to staff this morning saying that he “issued Mr Makwakwa with a suspension letter pending a full investigation”.

This comes after a banking regulator revealed that about R1.2-million in mystery payments found its way to Makwakwa’s bank account.

The investigative report was delivered to Moyane on May 17 this year. Criminal complaints were laid with the police around the same time.

Moyane did not act on the damning report until DA MP David Maynier asked uncomfortable questions about the matter in Parliament.

In the internal note Moyane appeased staff by saying: “I would like to assure all of you that when this matter was brought to my attention, Sars took all the reasonable steps within our policies to engage with the matter. This included providing both officials with the opportunity to respond to the allegations. I believe Sars has followed the correct procedure in terms of our policies when it comes to such serious allegations of misconduct.”

Moyane sent Makwakwa a letter of intention to suspend a few days after Maynier quizzed him in Parliament and was shut down without an explanation.

Moyane’s explanation to staff about why he has only suspended Makwakwa now is longer than the actual announcement of Makwakwa’s suspension.

The Mail & Guardian wrote this week that Moyane may face up to 10 years in jail if a high court finds him guilty of contravening his obligations in terms of section 34(2) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities (Precca) Act.

The section puts an obligation on all officials in a position of authority to report any wrongdoing, even if only a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing exists.

The report says:

1. 75 cash deposits totalling R785 130 into Makwakwa’s account;

2. 48 of these deposits were made between 2014 and 2015;

3. Some of these payments were traced back through about 14 accounts to the department of water affairs and forestry;

4. The amounts paid into Makwakwa’s account suddenly increased from R5 500 to R278 400 in 2013 to 2014, and in 2015 the value of the cash deposits increased to R448 000;

5. R200 000, as part payment of a Mercedes Benz C220 Bluetec in favour of Kelly-Ann Elskie, was made from Makwakwa’s personal bank account. Elskie is employed by the legal division in Sars and is believed to be Makwakwa’s girlfriend.

6. Between December 22 and 24 2015, three cash deposits totalling R450 200 were deposited into the account of Kelly-Ann Elskie;

7. The deposits were made over three consecutive days into three different branches of the same bank, all located within an approximate 10km radius.

The national treasury has since issued a statement in which it said it has not yet been officially informed of Makwakwa’s suspension.

“The ministry of finance notes the suspension of the senior official at Sars that is reported in the media. National treasury has not been formally informed yet. However, National Treasury met with Mr Moyane and another senior official this week to discuss the matter. We are awaiting further information on the action that is to be taken by the senior management of Sars in this matter,” the statement reads.

“National treasury believes that public confidence and transparency are critical in order to be seen to be doing the right thing in this matter.”

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Pauli van Wyk
Pauli van Wyk is a Scorpio investigative journalist. She writes about the justice cluster, state-owned companies, state politics and the inescapable collision course they're on. Pauli cut her teeth at Media24. She became a journo at Beeld, was trained by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and joined Mail & Guardian's investigative team before becoming a member of Scorpio.

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