Sad to leave SARS after almost half a century

2008-07-09 00:00

RETIREMENT is not going to be easy for a Pietermaritzburg woman Irene Osbourne (65), who has worked for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for almost half a century.

Osbourne started working for SARS on May 26, 1959, and on July 31, she is to leave after 49 years’ service.

“I was 15 years old when I started. There were no calculators, everything was done manually, and over the years I had to learn and adapt to modern technology,” she said.

The SARS office was in Church Street when she was recruited. “I did not apply. My older sister had been employed by SARS for a while and her supervisor called me and told me there was an opening. I started as a clerk with a standard eight qualification”.

In 1971, she obtained her matric through night school. Eight years later she obtained a three-year diploma in state accounts and finance from Pretoria Technikon. In 1985, she did a diploma in taxation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She is currently working as a specialist in tax.

While changes in income tax, VAT and the legislature have come and gone, Osbourne said she embraced the changes. She is modest about her expertise. “I am a tax specialist … I have good knowledge of tax, but you can never say you are an expert because tax changes all the time.”

These days, she said, she is “tying up loose ends” and is beginning to accept the fact that she is leaving.

“It [working] has never been a pull and I never realised how much time has gone because I thoroughly enjoyed working here. It will be difficult not to be involved, but I think it will be a new chapter in my life.”

She believes the same positive attitude that has carried her through the years will take her through the next chapter. “The motivating factor in my life is that whatever I do, I do to my best ability. I have always wanted to provide excellent service for the people.”

Osborne said she is not sure what her next chapter will be, but is glad to “take a break from long years of hard work”.

Osbourne’s colleagues will miss her. Venessa Muskett, in the SARS PMB management team, was hired by Osborne.

“She will leave a void in the office … I will cry when she leaves … She was the very first person I met at SARS and ever since she made sure that I am comfortable … She is an excellent role model, always reliable and willing to help.”

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