Suspended SARS executive is 'evasive', says Lackay lawyer

2017-09-11 19:45
Adrian Lackay (File, Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

Adrian Lackay (File, Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - The legal team for former SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay believes suspended chief operating officer Jonas Makwakwa has been evasive in his testimony at the CCMA, and they plan to ask the commissioner not to accept any of his testimony.

This emerged after a long day of cross examination at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). Lackay has laid a case against SARS for constructive dismissal.

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

Also read: SARS 'rogue unit', Gordhan and Manuel: 'Project Sunday Evenings' explained

Lackay, who was employed for 11 years at SARS, has said that 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.

'Suspicious' deposits

Makwakwa was SARS' Chief Officer for Business and Individual Taxes and was suspended in mid-September 2016.

This came after media reports that he allegedly made "unusual and suspicious" deposits totalling R1.2m into a number of bank accounts between 2010 and 2016.

Advocate Richard Moultrie, on behalf of Lackay, questioned Makwakwa about a GCIS (government communication and information system) meeting where Lackay had testified there were plans to "spike" a story by the Mail & Guardian newspaper which had asked questions about SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane.

He asked why Makwakwa had not invited Lackay to the meeting.

"This was consistent with conduct at SARS to sideline Mr Lackay," said Moultrie.

Makwakwa said he thought Lackay was on leave as it was the festive season and he had not been seen for days.

Moultrie said it did not add up that the spokesperson would not be contacted when such a significant media query was raised.

"For you maybe. For me it does," Makwakwa replied.

Media jobs 

Questions were then directed to the two media jobs advertised, one more senior to Lackay’s position and one having the exact same job description as him.

Makwakwa denied they were planning on replacing Lackay.

He said they needed more people to share the responsibility of dealing with the media.

Moultrie asked Makwakwa if he did not consult with Lackay on these changes to the unit.

"I had no need to consult with him. I spoke with him. Clarified this had nothing to do with replacing him," Makwakwa said.

Also read: Ex-SARS spokesperson's job advertised twice while he was still on duty

He said there were 15 000 positions at SARS and they did not consult with everybody when they made changes.

Moultrie said this was not an ordinary employee.

Lackay, he said, was senior; he occupied an important job and he consulted directly with the commissioner.

"I don’t agree [that] he was senior," Makwakwa said.

'Evasive' 

Moultrie said that in his testimony in June, Makwakwa said the two extra positions advertised had not been filled.

He said this was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to push Lackay aside.

Makwakwa said people had been seconded to the media department and he thought that by now the positions had been filled by SARS, but he did not know for sure.

He also said he did not know anything about the press release sent out when Johann van Loggerenberg resigned or about the meeting where Moyane disbanded the SARS Exco.

Moultrie asked if SARS did anything to investigate the leaks surrounding the rogue unit stories or to dispute any of them.

"I don’t know," Makwakwa replied.

"You, as the Chief operating officer, did not know?" Moultrie asked. Makwakwa replied, "Yes".

Moultrie accused him of being evasive and indicated he would ask the commissioner not to accept any of the evidence he had given. The hearing will continue on Tuesday.

Read more on:    sars  |  adrian lackay  |  jonas makwakwa

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