Mkhwebane probes SARS commissioner's recruitment, selection

2019-07-25 06:00
Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is investigating the recruitment and selection of SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter.

Her spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, confirmed this to News24 on Wednesday.

In response to questions, Segalwe confirmed the Public Protector was investigating two matters related to employment and SARS human resource processes.

This was based on two complaints received in March and May, he said.

"There are two separate investigations. One relates to SARS HR matters relating [to] staff and another relates to the recruitment and selection processes concerning the commissioner."

Segalwe said the complainants wished to remain anonymous, and was unable to provide further details.

"I can't share any more than I have."

SARS, through its media desk, told News24 it was "not aware of the investigation" and therefore could not comment.

The Public Protector is already investigating another complaint related to SARS employment practices. That complaint relates to allegations that its former deputy commissioner, Ivan Pillay, had not followed proper recruitment procedures when he appointed former officials Yolise Pikie and Johan van Loggerenberg.

This forms part of a broader complaint, laid in November 2018, into Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the so-called SARS rogue-unit. 

Gordhan, a former SARS commissioner, was found by Mkhwebane to have violated the Constitution and the Executive Ethics Act in relation to a number of alleged transgressions, especially related to the establishment of the "rogue unit". 

READ: Sars and the rogue unit – the ultimate guide 

This week, Gordhan approached the High Court seeking to interdict the implementation of the remedial action ordered by Mkhwebane against him, pending a review of her report.

READ: Mkhwebane stands by Gordhan report, court hears

The investigation into SARS staffing and Kieswetter's appointment, which stem from the complaints, add to this pile of allegations against the revenue service's past and present leaders.

Mkhwebane has come under fire recently as a result of her investigations, and several court judgments critical of her reports.

She recently found President Cyril Ramaphosa had misled Parliament over a donation to his 2017 ANC presidential campaign from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson. 

Rampahosa has taken the report on judicial review, saying it contained numerous "factual inaccuracies of a material nature".

On Monday, the Constitutional Court upheld a personal costs order against her, related to what it said were a "number of falsehoods" Mkhwebane had put forward during her investigation of the South African Reserve Bank/Absa "lifeboat" controversy. 

While it is not clear who laid the complaints with the Public Protector, Kieswetter's appointment in March had irked the EFF. The party said it was shrouded in nepotism because former finance minister Trevor Manuel was on the panel that made the recommendations to SARS on the appointment (but did not make the final decision).

The EFF alleged that Manuel was a close associate and family member of Kieswetter.

Manuel denied this, and subsequently won a R500 000 defamation case against the EFF over the claims, which he said were "libellous and racist".

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Read more on:    public protector  |  anc  |  sars  |  busisi­we mkhwebane  |  ramaphosa  |  pravin gordhan  |  cyril
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