SARS group executive rubbishes former spokesperson's claims

2017-06-06 19:23
Adrian Lackay (Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

Adrian Lackay (Cornél van Heerden, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - South African Revenue Service (SARS) group executive Luther Lebelo has dismissed claims that the leaking of information to the public was never investigated.

Lebelo was testifying in the case between SARS and its former spokesperson Adrian Lackay's constructive dismissal case in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Lebelo said initially investigations were never conducted, but things changed when SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane arrived.

Moyane had given instructions to change the system and also instructed IT to block the usage of Gmail accounts, Lebelo said.

"Our people [employees] received news flashes and they forwarded them to their friends. There was no investigation into the leaks," Lebelo said in what was his second day before the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

He added that if SARS wanted to "get rid" of Lackay, they would have sent him to a disciplinary hearing after he had forwarded confidential emails to his wife.

READ: CCMA to hear Adrian Lackay's case against SARS

People leaving

Lebelo said Lackay and the media had created an impression that commissioner Moyane was failing, and as a result, people were leaving the service.

He was responding to allegations made by Lackay that about 55 employees left SARS.

"I want to put it on record that it is a lie and none of the 55 people left SARS. It was only a handful of less than 10 people who have left SARS for different reasons.

"Media including Mr Lackay are in a tirade to create an impression [that] Moyane… is failing and as a result, people are leaving SARS," Lebelo asserted.

Moyane has since gone beyond his targets since he arrived at SARS, Lebelo said.

On allegations that SARS had opened a criminal case against its former commissioner Ivan Pillay two weeks after he had left, Lebelo said it was not true.

He said the case was opened in May 2015 after two employees confessed to having been paid to install cameras at the Hawks and police offices.

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.

Media attack

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 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 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.

But Lebelo rubbished the claims.

He said they went to the GCIS meeting to get guidance regarding problems they experienced with the media. He claimed that Moyane was under attack from the media.

Lebelo said at no point has anyone said Lackay was a "problem".

Lackay had also 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  |  labour

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