General climate of fear at SARS - Lackay

2017-01-27 18:20
Adrian Lackay (Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

Adrian Lackay (Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - In the weeks before SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay resigned in February 2015, there was a general climate "of fear, anxiety and uncertainty" among its staff, he said on Friday.

Lackay described this negative atmosphere during the second day of cross-examination in his arbitration hearing before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). He is seeking financial compensation.

He is arguing that his working conditions became unbearable amid allegations by commissioner Tom Moyane that senior officials had set up an illegal "rogue" spy unit.

Lackay was employed at the South African Revenue Service for 11 years. He has claimed he was forced to leave after it became "untenable" to associate himself with the goings-on there.

SARS lawyer Wisani Sibuyi produced an email that Lackay had sent to a family friend with his CV attached in November 2014, just over a month after Moyane took up his position.

In the email, Lackay indicated that he felt things were not going to improve at the institution and that he was looking for other employment.

Sibuyi said this showed that Lackay wanted to leave SARS for reasons other than his facing an impossible work situation.

"You had other job opportunities outside of SARS by the time you resigned," Sibuyi said.

READ: My superiors thought I was part of the 'rogue unit' - Lackay

‘Feared immediate dismissal’

He pointed to the fact that Lackay wrote in his letter of resignation that he was leaving SARS for "personal reasons and other work opportunities".

Lackay replied that in his resignation he wrote something that would allow him an easy exit from the revenue service. He feared "immediate dismissal or that another form of disciplinary charges" would be brought against him.

Lackay said he had found out that SARS chief operating officer Barry Hore had resigned, and that while he was serving his month’s notice, SARS had pursued a disciplinary case against him.

"By the 19 of February those things weighed heavily on my mind. There was a general climate of fear, anxiety and uncertainty at the head office. I was not going to take any action in resigning that would provide a reason for the employer to act against me," Lackay said. 

Sibuyi said SARS had never pursued the case against Hore and that there was no basis for Lackay’s fears that he would be disciplined.

Lackay disagreed and said he was not alone in feeling anxiety as an employee at SARS during that period.

His case was postponed to April 3.

Read more on:    ccma  |  sars  |  adrian lackay

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