Suspended South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Tom Moyane’s legal advisors have told President Cyril Ramaphosa that "obstacles to fairness" remain regarding the inquiry into their client’s conduct at the revenue service.
Given a "fair" process, however, he wants the disciplinary proceedings to get underway as soon as possible.
In a letter from Moyane's legal advisors, which Fin24 has seen, the lawyers have also condemned Ramaphosa's insistence that representations in the inquiry into Moyane's conduct must be made in writing.
Further, they say, there is a "need for equality of arms in respect of legal representation". "We note that the President has hired, at taxpayers' expense, FOUR advocates to represent him in these disciplinary proceedings," the letter reads. "That alone is the clearest indication of the importance and perceived complexity of the issues involved. It cuts both ways.
"More importantly, it symbolises the unfair inequality of arms to which we have been referring."
Moyane has previously asked for the state to pay his legal fees.
Moyane's legal team was also dissatisfied with the selection process for the previous inquiry chair. On Tuesday, Ramaphosa replaced Judge Kate O’Regan with Judge Azhar Bham SC as chair of the inquiry after Moyane objected to the links between O’Regan and Corruption Watch, an NGO of which she is a board member.
"Our client is very anxious that, provided the process is fair, the disciplinary proceedings must get underway as soon as possible, even tomorrow," the letter from Mabuza Attorneys reads.
"In that respect, he welcomes the removal of one of the major obstacles to a fair process, namely a chairperson who was perceived by him to be biased against him specifically."
In the letter, Moyane’s legal advisors remind Ramaphosa of his proposal that the question of unfair procedure must be decided upfront by the chairperson of the inquiry.
"Depending on the ruling or outcome, the employer must call its witnesses, including the President, who informed the Commissioner that he had lost confidence in him based, inter alia, on grounds which have miraculously disappeared from the charge sheet, alternatively the inquiry may proceed in line with the ruling," the letter said.
The letter says Moyane intends to call his witnesses, followed by legal argument by both parties, as to why he should or should not be urgently reinstated to his position. The letter asks that any subsequent processes depend on the outcome of the inquiry and the normal provisions of South African law.
"Due to the self-evident importance of this matter for both parties, and also for the South African population and economy, we urgently await your indication of the date, time and venue of the first sitting of the disciplinary inquiry in the hope that you will, in the meantime, be taking whatever steps you may be advised to take in order to bring on and accelerate the much-anticipated commencement of the proceedings,” the letter reads.
On Wednesday, the Hawks confirmed that they had an investigation into Moyane, with Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi saying the Directorate for Priority Criminal Investigations would have until May 30 to conclude the probe.
* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER