NPA drops Symington 'SARS hostage' case

Johannesburg – The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will not be pursuing a case against four Hawks members accused of holding suspended SA Revenue Service legal expert Vlok Symington hostage in 2016.

Acting director of public prosecutions for Gauteng Advocate George Baloyi issued a certificate informing Symington that the case against the Brigadier N Xaba, Colonel HW Maluleka, Lieutenant Colonel S Palaza and Captain F Sewele would be dropped. The certificate was dated October 24.

Baloyi also sent a letter to the chief director of investigations at the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), detailing the reasons he declined to prosecute. 

The matter has to do with allegations made by Symington that he was held hostage at SARS by the four Hawks members and Thabo Titi, the bodyguard of SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane. He said the men had tried to remove a document from him.  

Prospects of prosecution 

In his letter Baloyi said that, after reviewing the evidence, there was not a reasonable prospect for a prosecution. “There are a number of material contradictions in the version of Mr Symington that renders the prospects of a successful prosecution remote."

Symington had made two statements to the NPA, on October 24 and 25, 2016 about the alleged kidnapping. The NPA had also considered email exchanges between Symington and Moyane following the incident. 

In Baloyi's letter he questioned the facts presented by Symington as evidence regarding the incident. Among these were that, while Symington at first said that Titi demanded the document from him, he later said the Hawks had demanded it.

Other issues relate to what the document was actually about.

The NPA said that, in one version, Symington referred to the document as an affidavit. But based on another version of the event provided by Symington, the NPA believed the document to be a letter of questions from the NPA's office that Symington had to answer.

The NPA also questioned the series of events that led to the document being forcefully removed from Symington’s hand.

Fin24 is yet to receive a response from Symington’s lawyers regarding the NPA’s decision. 

SARS had laid charges against Symington following the incident. The include gross misconduct, insubordination, use of foul language and bringing the name of SARS in disrepute.

In September 2017 Symington lost an urgent court application against SARS to interdict his disciplinary hearing. Symington had argued that he was supposed to be protected as a whistleblower. Judge Hans Fabricius ruled that he failed to make his case.

SARS planned to go ahead with its disciplinary action, but this has since been postponed over questions around the legality of the charges.

The North Gauteng High Court will hear the matter in May 2018.

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