I only saw Tom Moyane about 5 times in 4 months - former SARS spokesperson

2017-01-26 17:05
Adrian Lackay (Sarel van der Walt/Netwerk24)

Adrian Lackay (Sarel van der Walt/Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - Former SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay had close relationships with previous SARS commissioners Pravin Gordhan, Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay, but he made no attempt to get close to commissioner Tom Moyane.

This is the point which SARS lawyer Advocate Wisani Sibuyi tried to put across during Lackay’s cross-examination in an arbitration hearing before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Thursday.

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

Lackay, who was employed for 11 years at the South African Revenue Service, has claimed that he was forced to leave after it became "untenable" to associate himself with the goings on at the revenue service.

'I was very close to Minister Gordhan'

He resigned in February 2015 after it became clear his functions had been taken away and he had reached a "breaking point".

"There was no relationship of trust in me by the commissioner and my working conditions had become intolerable," Lackay said.

Sibuyi started his cross-examination by asking Lackay if he had a close relationship with Gordhan, who is the current minister of finance.

"I was very close to Minister Gordhan," Lackay responded.

He said he had also been close to Magashula and Pillay.

Their office had been less than 30 metres away from Lackay’s office and he saw them every day.

"My working relationship with Mr Magashula, Mr Gordhan and Mr Pillay was one where I could interrupt them if a matter arose that urgently needed their attention."

'I am his subordinate'

This was the same office Moyane moved into when he took up the job in October 2014, but Lackay testified that Moyane had later moved to another office in a separate building to which he did not have access.

He said, after the move, he only met Moyane about five times in about four months, despite frequently needing his attention on media queries related to the so-called rogue unit.

Sibuyi asked how often he saw Moyane when he first started as commissioner. Lackay said he saw him regularly in the first month, but once Moyane had moved offices, he would be told that Moyane was not available whenever he tried to see him.

"From what you are saying, you did not establish a relationship with Commissioner Moyane and you were not interested in doing so," Sibuyi said.

Lackay denied this, saying when Moyane was appointed, there had been no change in his duties.

Sibuyi asked if Lackay had ever called and asked the commissioner where he was.

"I am his subordinate. If I am told he is not available, I accept that. I alerted him to what I needed to see him about by emailing him," Lackay said.

Emails unanswered

He added that when he needed urgent responses to media queries, often his emails to Moyane went unanswered.

Sibuyi said that because Lackay did not SMS or call Moyane, he could not know he was needed.

"How is the commissioner supposed to know you need him if you do not communicate with him? Is he supposed to be a sangoma or something?"

Lackay repeated that he had emailed Moyane and had tried to see him repeatedly.

In one email he told Moyane that he needed to be given information on what was happening with some serious matters, such as the suspensions of senior managers, in order for him to communicate with the media.

Lackay indicated that, after resigning from SARS, he spent 18 months doing freelance work.

He now has a contract at the Public Investment Corporation.

Cross-examination will continue on Friday.

Read more on:    ccma  |  sars  |  adrian lackay  |  tom moyane  |  rogue unit

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