SARS Inquiry: Makwakwa wants Nugent to subpoena witnesses and taxman

The former chief of business and individual taxes at the SA Revenue Service, Jonas Makwakwa, wants the Nugent Commission of Inquiry to subpoena the tax agency to issue information which he says he needs for his testimony at the hearing.

The information includes documents of evidence produced by witnesses who have already testified against him at the inquiry, which is probing tax administration and governance at SARS.

Some of the witnesses include former SARS officials Makungu Mthebule, Gene Ravele and Bernard Mofokeng.

Makwakwa, who quit SARS in mid-March after coming under heavy pressure to resign, is due to make his submission to the public inquiry later in August. He also wants documents from SARS which he believes would help substantiate his presentation.

In a letter dated July 30, and addressed the the chair of the commission, retired Judge Robert Nugent, a lawyer for Makwakwa states that SARS had said some of the information that he needed was already in the public domain, but the rest must be requested from the revenue service in terms of Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

The lawyer further states that the tax body "failed to identify which information is publicly available", demanding that Nugent "issue a subpoena requesting the information".

Nugent has not publicly replied to the letter. 

In a separate letter to acting SARS Commissioner Mark Kingon, also dated July 30, Makwakwa requested that he confirms whether Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, former top SARS official Ivan Pillay and other witnesses who have already testified followed the same procedure of obtaining information through PAIA.

Makwakwa had previously written a letter to Nugent requesting him to confirm if witnesses who had already testified before the commission would be recalled and cross-examined. 

He said he wanted to make submissions to the inquiry in order to "correct a number of inaccuracies that have been put forward by the witnesses called to date, as well as to shed light on what has been at play at SARS".

He said that witnesses should produce evidence on "baseless allegations" made at the inquiry.

Makwakwa also threatened to open perjury cases and defamation claims against the witnesses if they did not provide evidence to support their claims.  

Nugent warned him to "desist from threatening action" against witnesses.

Makwakwa has been embroiled in scandal since reports of a flow of suspicious money movements came to light two years ago.

The money trail was included in a report by law firm Hogan Lovells, which was tasked with conducting an independent investigation into Makwakwa in 2016.

He was suspended from the revenue service in September 2016 while Hogan Lovells conducted their investigation.

Makwakwa was found not guilty in a subsequent disciplinary hearing and returned to the tax agency in November 2017, only to resign in March 2018.

In June, the SARS inquiry heard that Makwakwa actively tried to interfere with the tax matters of high-profile or VIP taxpayers, to the indignation of other tax officials, who claimed he had "no business" instructing individuals how to deal with these matters.

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