Sars 'rogue unit' documents will be allowed in labour dispute case

2016-10-24 18:46
SARS office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

SARS office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Key documents related to the South African Revenue Service's (Sars) infamous "rogue unit" saga will be allowed in the labour dispute of the taxman's former spokesperson Adrian Lackay.

On Monday Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) commissioner Joyce Nkopane dismissed Sars' lawyers' objection to the documents, which it argued were irrelevant.

Two weeks ago Advocate Wisani Sibuyi, acting for Sars, contended that the documents relating to the rogue unit matter were unrelated to Lackay's labour dispute and that they would drag proceedings out unnecessarily.

He referred to a submitted document dated from 2009, saying it was not necessary to go back so many years when considering a current labour issue.

News24 has reported that it is understood that the document Sibuyi referred to is a formal response Sars had compiled in 2010 after a document had begun to circulate early that year alleging that the revenue service had run an illegal spying unit.

The distribution of this document, dubbed the "Snowman dossier", had occurred several years before the Sunday Times newspaper's reports on the same allegations would spark the fallout that would eventually see the exodus of a host of former Sars investigators.

The documents that Sars' lawyers now want excluded from the CCMA proceedings are said to include very detailed submissions from Sars' then leadership, explaining in detail what the Sars investigative unit's mandate was and why allegations that it had acted illegally were false.

Claims of constructive dismissal

Lackay however countered that the documents helped him demonstrate how the allegations of the unit were dealt with in the past and how when the "same issues arose during the relevant period, he was side-lined and treated unfairly".

This evidence, his lawyers argued, would show that there was "no justification for the commissioner to mistrust him and prevent him from doing his job".

Nkopane, in her decision to allow the documents, said the objection was premature.

"I find that I cannot at this stage determine the relevance of any document without second-guessing what the applicant's case is going to be, or speculating as to the purpose for which a document is submitted."

Lackay resigned from Sars in 2015 amid the political storm over a so-called "rogue unit" that had supposedly operated at the tax collector.

He argued through his legal representatives that his working conditions had become unbearable to the extent that he was left with no choice but to resign, constituting a constructive dismissal.

Sars' legal team countered that there had never been an attempt by Sars to get rid of Lackay in the wake of the "rogue unit" debacle and that there was no indication of his working conditions having become "intolerable".

The matter has been set down for January 23 to 27 for arbitration.

Read more on:    ccma  |  sars  |  adrian lackay

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