SARS calls its first witness in former spokesperson’s CCMA case

2017-06-05 21:00
Adrian Lackay (Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

Adrian Lackay (Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – The SA Revenue Service (SARS) on Monday called its first witness in former SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay’s constructive dismissal case in Johannesburg.

Luther Lebelo, the group executive testifying in one of the boardrooms on the eighth floor of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) building, said he was unaware that Lackay knew about the so-called “rogue unit”.

Lebelo was replying to a question by lead counsel, Advocate Wisani Sibuyi, who said Lackay testified that he believed that SARS associated him with the rogue unit at the time.

Media questions regarding the rogue unit were directed to Lackay, Lebelo said.

“We trusted his judgment on issues dealing with the rogue unit.  I don’t know why he would think SARS thought he was part of the...unit,” Lebelo said.

Under the cross-examination of Counsel Moraka Motimele, Lebelo said he had always worked well with Lackay.

He also said that when Lackay resigned; he told him that he was leaving for greener pastures.

“He [Lackay] said, ‘I don’t want it to come out as if I am leaving because I am unhappy. I am leaving for greener pastures’,” Lebelo said.

Lackay would have mentioned that he was unhappy about certain things at SARS, he said.

Lackay worked at SARS for 11 years before resigning in February 2015.

“I personally learnt a lot from him – he just has a way of navigating...that is why as a team we learnt a lot from him. We respected him for his assistance.”

He said there was no point when he questioned how Lackay did his job.

Unbearable working conditions

Lebelo also added that when group executive Johann van Loggerenberg resigned, he had an hour-long conversation with him.

He said Van Loggerenberg had told him that he wanted to resign because of the disciplinary hearing. He also said he wanted to start a new life, Lebelo said.

In September 2014, Van Loggerenberg was placed on special leave pending a probe into alleged misconduct.

In November, SARS commissioner Tom Moyane reportedly formally suspended him.

Lackay had previously revealed a lot of what went on behind the scenes at SARS when Moyane first started the job in the midst of the onslaught of the rogue unit debacle in 2014 and 2015.

He had previously argued that his working conditions became unbearable amid allegations of the rogue unit's existence, and that he was forced to leave after it became untenable to associate himself with the goings-on at the revenue service.

In January - when Lackay first gave evidence - the CCMA boardroom was filled with journalists, but as weeks passed the number of journalists dwindled.

Lackay had revealed that not only did Moyane not fight back against the rogue unit allegations – he "tacitly approved them".

He also said that Moyane's right-hand man at the time (before he was suspended after it publicly emerged that there were suspicious transactions in his bank account), acting chief operating officer Jonas Makwakwa, said at a Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) meeting that Lackay was a problem in the communication department at SARS because he was denying that a rogue unit existed.

Lackay argued that Moyane changed offices, making himself inaccessible and that he (Lackay) was increasingly being left out of the loop on important events at SARS, such as the suspensions of deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, at a time when – as the spokesperson of the organisation – he was being bombarded with queries from the media.

The case continues.  

Read more on:    ccma  |  sars  |  adrian lackay  |  tom moyane  |  johannesburg

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