Cape Town – Parliament’s standing committee on finance has requested a copy of the disciplinary inquiry report on Jonas Makwakwa and Kelly-Anne Elskie, two employees of the South African Revenue Services (SARS) whose suspensions have been lifted recently.
“After consulting with Parliament’s Legal Services Unit, the [committee] has written to the Commissioner of SARS, Mr Tom Moyane, as well as Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to request a copy of the report on Mr Jonas Makwakwa and Ms Kelly-Anne Elskie,” committee chairperson Yunus Carrim (ANC) said in a statement on Monday.
“Although we have no evidence that Mr Makwakwa and Ms Elskie are guilty of the allegations against them, we still believe that it is in the public interest that the report be released. Given the role SARS plays, it not only has to be, but be seen to be above reproach, and perceptions of irregularities by its senior officials have to be effectively addressed,” he added.
Taking the public into its confidence in relation to the alleged irregularities is important in view of the waning public confidence in SARS, decreasing tax compliance among tax payers and a decline in tax morality, which SARS has also referred to, Carrim said.
“With the projected shortfall of R50.8bn in revenue for this financial year, we need to bolster public confidence in SARS more than ever before. The statement issued by SARS that Mr Makwakwa is not guilty of the charges levelled against him is terse and offers no justification for this decision.”
The committee believes that if there are aspects of the report that cannot be released for legal reasons, this can be negotiated between lawyers from SARS and Parliament, and if there is agreement on this, those aspects can be considered in a closed meeting or deleted from the report to be considered.
Carrim reiterated that should SARS decide not to make the report available to the committee, it will have to provide a legal justification, which will be referred to Parliament’s legal advisers to advise on.
The committee also requested the Hogan Lovells report on this matter, on the same basis as the request for the disciplinary inquiry report.
Fin24 earlier reported that Makwakwa was set to return to the organisation on Wednesday November 1, as a disciplinary hearing found him not guilty of any of the charges levelled against him.
Makwakwa was suspended in mid-September 2016 following reports that he allegedly made "unusual and suspicious" deposits totalling R1.2m into a number of bank accounts between 2010 and 2016.
In addition, more than R450 000 was allegedly deposited into his girlfriend, Elskie’s, bank account.
Explaining the reasons for Makwakwa’s return, Moyane said renowned legal firm Hogan Lovells appointed Advocate Terry Motau, to chair the hearing into Makwakwaa
"SARS wishes to confirm that Advocate Motau, SC has submitted the final report which found that Mr Makwakwa was not guilty of any of the charges levelled against him.
"This concludes the disciplinary action against Mr Makwakwa. As result SARS will immediately implement the outcome of the hearing as is.”
Alf Lees, Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson on finance, said his party welcomes the request for the disciplinary reports.
"It took over a year for SARS to deal with the Makwakwa matter and the 'no action' outcome just adds to the narrative that SARS is no longer the institution of excellence and fairness to taxpayers that it was a mere three years ago," Lee said.
SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE UPDATE: Get Fin24's top morning business news and opinions in your inbox.