Former Sars spokesperson says Tom Moyane accused him of conspiracy

Former South African Revenue Service spokesperson Adrian Lackay today told the Commission  for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) that Sars commissioner Tom Moyane had accused him of conspiracy.

He said Moyane had not given him any information so that he could answer media queries about a so-called “rogue unit” at Sars.

And when a team of senior Sars employees attempted to put together a file explaining where allegations of a rogue unit had emanated from after a Sunday Times article, Moyane sent an SMS asking: “Why are you conspiring against the commissioner?”

“It [the SMS] indicated that the commissioner lent some form of tacit approval to the allegation that a rogue intelligence unit existed at Sars,” Lackay said .

He argued that his working conditions became unbearable amid allegations by Moyane that an illegal spy unit had been set up by senior officials.

Lackay, who worked for Sars for 11 years, said he was forced to leave after it became “untenable” to associate himself with the goings-on at the revenue service. He resigned in February 2015.

‘Didn’t appreciate this effort’
On his first day of testimony, Lackay indicated that by November 2015, at the height of the media storm around the so-called rogue unit, his relationship with Moyane had broken down.

Lackay said that when Moyane was first appointed as commissioner he was welcomed into the tax revenue service and there was no hostility toward him.

After the first story in the Sunday Times appeared naming a rogue intelligence unit at the tax agency, Lackay said the communications team and senior investigators were concerned about how the commissioner would interpret the story and a team set to work on a briefing note for Moyane to apprise him of all the allegations.

“To our great surprise, we were informed that Mr Moyane did not appreciate this effort,” Lackay said.

He said Moyane sent the SMS to Dr Georgiou Radesich, the group executive of governance and risk.

Lackay said until this point, his office was located near the commissioner’s office, but in November 2014 Moyane moved his office to a different building, Brooklyn Bridge. He said his interactions with Moyane during this time were mainly through email and SMS.

‘A time of heightened stress’
“I recall that period as being the time when my working relationship with Tom Moyane really broke down,” Lackay said.

“It was a time of heightened stress at Sars.”

Lackay said he had received media queries and requests to be on radio shows, which he had to turn down because of the lack of response from Moyane.

On November 27 2014, Lackay said he got another enquiry from the Sunday Times about the Sikhakhane report. He responded that the report was still being investigated, not being aware that the report had been finalised and had been handed to Moyane.

Lackay said because of the lack of information from Moyane, he had made a statement to the media that was not true.

Email not taken kindly
“It indicated to me that information was being kept away from me. I didn’t know why and that was a cause for anxiety in my own mind regarding my position. I had issued an incorrect statement. It is apparent the journalists knew more about the Sikhakhane panel and its findings than I did as a [Sars] spokesperson,” Lackay said.

Lackay said he decided to write an email to Moyane indicating that the leaks in the paper seemed to be emanating internally from Sars employees, that it was putting the institution at risk and there should be a probe into this.

A special executive committee meeting was called and Lackay was invited to attend. He said Moyane announced that he would be cancelling the meeting because of news headlines.

Lackay said Moyane also said he “does not take kindly to receiving emails from colleagues who accuse Sars of leaking information to the media and requesting investigations”.

Lackay believed this was a reference to his email.

His testimony will continue tomorrow. – News24

Subscribe to the M&G

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.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Human health, animal health and environmental health are inextricably linked

To take care of ourselves, we must take care of the world around us

Three ways to finance the Covid-19 policy response

The government will have to consider the pros and cons of direct taxation, de facto taxation and debt as it negotiates the coronavirus economic crisis

Public protector may not subpoena Zuma’s tax records, says high court

High court says people can refuse to hand information over to the protector if there is “just cause” and also makes a personal costs order against Mkhwebane

South Africa’s economic plan for Covid-19

Relief for small businesses, tax breaks, employment incentives — Ramaphosa’s drastic measures to fight the effects of Covid-19

Zuma breaks silence on his tax records

But his last minute affidavit does not resolve the bigger legal dispute between the South African Revenue Service and the public protector

Sars expects to collect less revenue for the year

The revenue service is expecting another year of tax undercollection thanks to weak economic growth and strained consumers.

Treasury presents Covid-19 corruption action plan

Reports of corruption, over-pricing and the delivery of sub-standard PPE have become the norm over the past five months as the country grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic

Metro cops, SAPS clash over control

Tensions between the City of Cape Town and the police service over responsibilities mirrors the strain between national and local government

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday