Johannesburg – A lawyer for former SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay on Tuesday accused Tom Moyane's former personal assistant of fabricating testimony.
"What you are saying is a recent fabrication because that has never been put to Mr Lackay," his lawyer Advocate Richard Moultrie told Sister Sibongile Mashinini, Moyane's former PA.
Mashinini was called to testify after a failed attempt to get the hearing postponed to Thursday at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) sitting at the offices of law firm Webber Wentzel in Sandton.
News24 previously reported that Lackay laid a case against SARS for constructive dismissal.
Lackay, who was employed for 11 years at SARS, says he was forced to leave after it became untenable to associate himself with the goings on at the revenue service. He tendered his resignation in February 2015.
In what appeared to be a delay tactic, Advocate Wisani Sibuyi, for SARS, requested that CCMA commissioner Joyce Nkopane postpone the hearing to Thursday as he needed to review a decision on whether Mashinini and her former boss, Moyane, who were expected to appear on Tuesday, should appear.
Open door policy
Moultrie found the request to be absurd and Nkopane agreed with him.
"I honestly cannot find any reasons to postpone. At the heart of this is that we speedily resolve matters. We are running the risk of dragging the matter. I do not understand the rational for the postponement," said Nkopane.
Advocate Sibuyi was forced to call Mashinini to testify.
Mashinini told the gathering that she started working at SARS in 2007 and in 2009 moved to the office of commissioner Moyane, where she worked as an executive assistant.
Mashinini served under former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula, Ivan Pillay and Moyane.
Under Moyane, who joined SARS in 2014, her core functions included running Moyane's diary, scheduling meetings, preparing documents he was going to be using at meetings and checking and responding to his emails.
Describing Moyane, Mashinini said: "He had an open door policy. Anyone was allowed to see him, including Mr Lackay, if the matter was urgent."
No animosity or tension
When Mashinini was asked how many meetings had taken place between Lackay and Moyane, she said she recalled only one meeting which purportedly took place on January 22, 2015, and which she was part of.
The rest of the meetings took place in her absence, she said.
"Mr Moyane asked me to go and call Adrian because he was not satisfied with the support that he was getting from him. I called Adrian and before I left, he [Moyane] asked me to remain behind.
"The commissioner greeted Adrian, asking about his wife and newborn. Then he told him that he asked me to remain behind because every time he asked me to call him, I could not reach him."
Mashinini said Lackay apologised to Moyane.
Mashinini said the meeting, during which Moyane told Lackay about his unhappiness with the support the former spokesperson was providing, was brief and she did not sense any animosity or tension in the room while the two men were speaking.
Questions over leave process
Another SARS lawyer, Advocate Iphaphras Motimele, told Mashinini that Lackay had testified that the meeting had been "aggressive" and not as cordial as she made it sound.
To which Mashinini responded: "Not to my knowledge."
Advocate Motimele asked if she was aware of leave that Lackay took at the end of 2014. Mashinini said she hadn't been aware.
Mashinini said processes followed when spokespersons wanted to take leave included informing the commissioner about when they wanted to take leave and who would act in their position.
She said when Lackay took leave, her office was not notified but Moultrie disputed this, saying Lackay's leave was approved by his line manager.
Moultrie told Mashinini that he would submit to the commission that her testimony was recently fabricated because that Lackay's leave had to be approved by the commissioner and not by his line manager, as it had been done that year, had not been put to Lackay.