SARS deputy: my suspension is as bad as an arrest

2014-12-17 12:48

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Sars commissioner Tom Moyane

SARS’ deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay says his suspension from the tax body was as damaging as an arrest.

Pillay and his colleague Peter Richer, who is SARS’ group executive for strategic planning and risk, went to the Labour Court in Braamfontein this morningm seeking an urgent interdict to reinstate them at the revenue service.

Richer successfully obtained an interdict, and Pillay’s case was to be heard next.

The two men were suspended by new tax boss Tom Moyane on December 5 pending an investigation into allegations of over-reach and spying by a unit.

Pillay commissioned a report by Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane into the allegations of spying. Moyane has received the report, which has not been publicly released, but news reports say it makes no adverse findings against Pillay or Richer.

Here’s what you need to know about today’s application.

*Pillay will argue that he occupies a vital role in public administration and is obliged to discharge a number of functions under revenue legislation;

*He will further argue that “Good public administration at this juncture in our history and context is critical to this country and SARS plays an absolutely integral role in achieving this constitutional role”;

*The suspensions come at a critical time when SARS is in its third quarter of the financial year at a time of low growth and revenue collection is even more important than usual;

*Moyane hails from a background of correctional services (without institutional knowledge of revenue collection);

*Pillay says: “the suspension in my case is equivalent to an arrest as I suffer palpable prejudice to reputation, advancement and fulfilment”; and

*Pillay and Richer claim that neither was given the opportunity to respond to the reasons for their suspensions or to argue against being suspended – a right granted in labour law to all employees. SARS disputes this.

Recent court judgements have opted for a narrow interpretation of urgency. Moyane has referred the issue to the Inspector General of Intelligence; disbanded the alleged covert unit and is conducting a forensic investigation to “ensure that the alleged unit and its activities cease to exist in its entirety”.

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