Ivan Pillay’s suspension found unlawful

2014-12-18 11:29

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The battle for the control of the South African Revenue Service took another turn when the Labour Court ordered that suspended deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay be reinstated immediately.

Pillay and Sars’ head of risk, Peter Richer, were suspended by commissioner Tom Moyane a week after he released some of the findings of the Sikhakhane inquiry into the existence of a covert intelligence unit in the revenue service.

Richer won his application to have the suspension lifted yesterday and today labour court judge Annelie Basson ordered that Pillay’s suspension was unlawful and also had to be lifted.

“The suspension ... constitutes a breach of his contract,” said Basson as she made a quick ruling inside a courtroom packed with journalists.

She ordered that Sars not only lift his suspension but permit Pillay to return to work and perform his contractual duties. She also ordered that Sars pay his costs.

Pillay’s lawyer, Nazir Cassim SC, had told the Labour Court yesterday that his client was not given a chance to give reasons as to why he should not be suspended.

The suspensions were part of Moyane’s clean-up campaign of the old guard at Sars, which is seen as loyal to former commissioner and now Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Pravin Gordhan.

Moyane first suspended senior executive manager Johann van Loggerenberg, who had been implicated in a spying scandal involving his former lover Belinda Walter.

However, the independent inquiry – headed by advocate Muzi Sikhakhane – found that Sars was running an illegal intelligence unit which reported directly to Pillay and Richer. It concluded that the unit was conducting illegal intelligence, with reports suggesting that it spied on top politicians including President Jacob Zuma.

Pillay has insisted that the unit had no intelligence capacity but was a national research group whose members conducted lawful tax-related investigations on behalf of Sars.

Moyane also ordered a forensic audit of all investigations conducted by Sars since 2005.

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