Moyane accused of lying about his role in Gordhan 'witch hunt'

Johannesburg - Despite Tom Moyane having been explicitly implicated by former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko as the alleged instigator of charges laid against former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner has denied under oath that he was responsible.

Moyane refuted the facts in court papers before the Pretoria High Court, whereafter accidental player in the Gordhan saga and SARS employee, Vlok Symington, accused Moyane of lying under oath in his replying affidavit.

Symington stated that Nhleko implicated Moyane as the complainant at a press briefing in March 2016, bringing to the front that either Nhleko or Moyane had lied.

WATCH: Police Minister Nathi Nhleko names Tom Moyane as the SARS official who brought fraud charges against former Finance Minster Pravin Gordhan

In his replying affidavit Symington alleges that there were at least three instances where Moyane was implicated as the complainant against Gordhan. 

"I presumed this was not a contentious issue, as it had been widely reported in the media," Symington said. 

Unfair dismissal

Moyane’s affidavit comes after Symington brought an urgent motion against his employer (SARS) to court to prevent his “unfair” dismissal, after his employer informed him that they would instituted disciplinary actions against him for apparent misconduct. 

The matter was set to be heard in front of Judge Hans Fabricius on Thursday afternoon.

Symington , who has employed David Underhalter as his counsel, claims in his statement that Moyane's denial was not "credible"  and "casts doubt on the veracity and truthfulness of SARS's version as a whole". 

Symington shot into the limelight as a key player in the Gordhan charges saga, when he was barred from  leaving a SARS boardroom after a meeting with the Hawks and Moyane’s bodyguard.  

The altercation happened at the time when Gordhan was charged with fraud, which was later withdrawn. Symington’s legal opinion, written in 2009, was to a large extent responsible for charges being dropped against Gordhan.

He filed the urgent application to seek declaratory relief, as well as an interdict against his pending disciplinary action. He also asked the court to declare these reports as “protected disclosures” under the Protected Disclosures Act of 2000, which would prevent Sars from acting against Symington for any information he reveals. 

Symington’s affidavit stated that he inadvertently found himself at the “centre of the political storm surrounding Gordhan, and the broader issue of state capture.”

He believed he was being targeted for obtaining a memorandum that indicated a “conspiracy within elements of the Hawks (and possibly within SARS) to defeat the ends of justice by seeking to manipulate the investigation process”. 

Presumptuous fears

Refiloe Mokoena‚ SARS’ chief legal officer hit back by saying that Symington’s fears were presumptuous and that his claims of being persecuted were “baseless and not supported by objective facts. It…constitutes an expression of his personal opinion on what the likely outcome might be.”

Mokoena stated that Symington was to be disciplined "for insubordination or refusal to comply with a lawful instruction‚ for conduct unbecoming in relation to how he conducted himself during the meeting with the Hawk’s representatives.”

Symington was also facing charges for "abusive and insulting language" directed at Moyane’s bodyguard and for disclosing a recording of the fateful meeting to the media. Symington denied that he distributed the recording.

He claimed the decision by Moyane to bring disciplinary charges against him was motivated by the fact that he made  protected disclosures to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) and the National Prosecuting Authority  (NPA), about the Gordhan case and a supposed witch hunt by Moyane.

Named three times

Symington said he was surprised by Moyane's statement in his affidavit that he "was not party to any scheme to prosecute Gordan". He hit back saying he will deal "upfront with three obvious untruths" in Moyane's answering affidavits. 

He said NPA boss Shaun Abrahams issued a statement to the press that Moyane was the complainant in the Gordhan matter.  Also when Symington asked Ipid for clarification, and Ipid then isssued Symington's legal team with a compturised complaint document.  

"The document... records that the complainant is Moyane," claims Symington.

Symington added that the case number in the Ipid complaint was the same case number used in the broader investigation against Gordhan

In the third instance Nhleko also implicated Moyane as the instigator in a press briefing on March 2, 2016, right after Gordhan’s budget speech on 24 February.  

News broadcaster eNCA recorded the briefing, where Daily Maverick journalist Marianne Merten asked the minister who specifically in SARS was responsible for laying the charges.

“In our law an organisation cannot lay charges,” Merten stated. “It requires a real, physical person to lay a charge. So when you are saying SARS made the complaint, who, on behalf of SARS, the actual, physical human being, laid that complaint in May last year?”

Nhleko's answer is telling. He said the accounting officer for SARS is the Commissioner for SARS. “So specifically it’s him who went to the Police and, and, and basically complained about the issue as having surfaced… on the basis of some confessions that were also made by other members … of the unit…”

Moyane was the commissioner at the time, having been appointed at the end of 2014.

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