Mkhwebane subpoenas former Sars boss in probe against Gordhan

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has subpoenaed former South African Revenue Services (Sars) commissioner Oupa Magashula over former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement, in a probe centred on Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.

The pension payout was at the heart of the abandoned charges which were brought against Gordhan by the National Prosecuting Authority in October 2016 under then national director of public prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams.

Mkhwebane received the complaint regarding the pension payout in 2016 but only acted on it in November last year.

The Mail & Guardian understands that Magashula received the subpoena to appear before Mkhwebane on Monday to answer questions on the early retirement matter on March 25.

He confirmed receipt of the subpoena but declined to comment further.


Gordhan was subpoenaed to appear before Mkhwebane in November last year. At the time, her office moved to allay fears of a witch-hunt, saying the probe was only in its preliminary stages and she had not decided whether or not to proceed with it.

The questioning of Magashula on the matter some four months later indicates that Mkhwebane has decided to go ahead with the probe.

The M&G has seen the subpoena which indicates that the complaint is linked to Gordhan’s alleged irregular approval of the pension payout to Pillay when Gordhan was finance minister and Magashula was Sars commissioner.

It notes that Magashula is “implicated” in the matter and should provide necessary documentation and evidence to her office two days before he is expected to appear.

The Sars commission of inquiry chaired by retired Judge Robert Nugent heard evidence that a legal opinion obtained by Sars at the time had found that Pillay’s early retirement was lawful. The Nugent inquiry handed over its final report to President Cyril Ramaphosa in December 2018.  

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Natasha Marrian
Natasha Marrian
Marrian has built a reputation as an astute political journalist, investigative reporter and commentator. Until recently she led the political team at Business Day where she also produced a widely read column that provided insight into the political spectacle of the week.

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