​The SARS 3 fight back

Ivan Pillay (Delwyn Versamy/M&G)

Ivan Pillay (Delwyn Versamy/M&G)

The three former SARS employees who were allegedly involved in its “rogue unit” have sent a scathing letter to Shaun Abrahams, as the head of the National Prosecuting Authority and JP Pretorius as the director of priority crimes litigation unit demanding that the summons be withdrawn until they have made representations, which they have been denied.

Ivan PillayJohann van Loggerenberg and Andries Janse van Rensburg were issued with summons to appear before the Pretoria Regional Court on April 9. On Friday the three were charged by NPA for corruption and the contravention of the Rica Act.

Their lawyer and director at Werksmans attorneys, Bernard Hotz, said they are ”not going to sit back and be subjected to this type of abuse of a legal system.”

On Monday Werksmans attorneys hand delivered a letter to the NPA offices stating that the NPA has failed to consider the version or the defence of the three accused. The letter states that the NPA policy is quite clear that the decision to prosecute or not must be taken with care.

“The version or the defence of an accused person must also be considered, before a decision is made.
This test of a reasonable prospect must be applied objectively after careful deliberation to avoid an unjustified prosecution,” reads the policy cited in the letter.

The three have been investigated for years by the Hawks for an alleged role in spying activities during their time at the revenue service. In 2016 Pillay and Van Loggerenberg were summoned to supply warning statements by the Hawks.

This time, according to the letter, they have not.

Hotz said that it was legally surprising his client were not afforded the opportunity to make statements whilst in media reports it was reported that other people were given ample time to submit their representations.

“I do find the timing of this all very interesting and one should leave it at that especially if you have regard to the facts of the matter. When this particular charge arose, you see that it’s the exact same case number that formed the subject matter of the aborted prosecution against Mr (Pravin) Gordhan et al. When they called my clients to the Hawks offices to put questions to them why at that stage did they not raise this particular issue then. Why now?” he asked.

The letter asks why warning statements were not obtained from any the three in respect to the new charges brought against them.

“As you are no doubt aware it is a procedural prerequisite in a matter such as this to afford the accused an opportunity to provide representations and or a warning statement prior to the accused appearing in court for the first time,” reads the letter.

The lawyers demand that the summons be withdrawn with immediate effect pending the outcome of representation made.

“In light of the pending date of first appearance as is evident from the summons, being 9 April 2018, we seek an urgent, proper and rational considered response from you to this letter.”

Luvuyo Mfaku on behalf of the NPA confirmed that the National Director had received the letter. “What is clear is that the national director has got nothing to do with the decision and has referred the letter to the National Prosecuting Services who will respond to the letter,” he said.

Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession. Read more from Athandiwe Saba

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