It’s a witch hunt! Suspended SARS boss vows to fight back
Tom Moyane is taking to the stand to defend himself. It promises to be explosive
Suspended SARS commissioner Tom Moyane has promised to spill the beans on why he says the Nugent Commission into tax governance and administration is nothing more than a “witch hunt” against him.
Moyane is in the midst of an increasingly ugly legal tussle with President Cyril Ramaphosa, who suspended him in March this year. That suspension followed a meeting between the president and Moyane, during which Moyane claims Ramaphosa questioned him about his former second-in-command Jonas Makwakwa and the reported multimillion-rand VAT repayment reportedly made to the Guptas.
As yet the investigation into multiple misconduct allegations against Moyane – which largely relate to his alleged failure to act on evidence of corruption against Makwakwa – has yet to begin. But Moyane is adamant that Ramaphosa must himself come and testify against him, and cannot expect the charges against him to be fairly decided solely on paperwork.
Now Moyane’s legal team have focused their attention on the Nugent Inquiry, which has so far focused on claims of mismanagement, alleged criminality and political interference at SARS – all allegedly under Moyane’s leadership.Moyane’s lawyer Eric Mabuza has told Times Select that he was not invited to attend the commission.
“That the commission did not see the need to invite and consult with commissioner Moyane should be concerning to anyone who is interested in the most basic notions of fairness and absence of bias,” he said.
According to Mabuza: “The proceedings, media reporting and commentary after only three days of this commission have confirmed our client’s long-held suspicion that this inquiry is about nothing else but a witch hunt being conducted on commissioner Moyane's tenure at SARS.”
SARS confirmed on Thursday morning that the schedule for the Nugent Commission’s public hearings this week did not include Moyane. His presence on Friday was only confirmed by his lawyer hours later.
Attempts to contact the commission to clarify whether its processes included formal invitations to particular witnesses were unsuccessful.
Letters seen by Times Select show that Judge Robert Nugent did notify Mabuza on June 20 of the dates and location where the commission would be hearing evidence.
Mabuza wrote to Nugent two days later, formally requesting that Moyane be given an opportunity to address the inquiry, as he had not been invited to do so.
In Mabuza’s letter to Nugent, he reveals some of the issues Moyane wishes to raise. These include:
Moyane’s objection to the “suitability of Professor Michael Katz to serve as a member of the commission given his conflicted status as the personal and business legal representative of Mr Cyril Ramaphosa”;
Moyane’s belief that Katz’s relationship with Ramaphosa is problematic because he is “the person who appointed the commission; and the person who is our client’s key adversary in pending disciplinary inquiry involving the current commissioner of SARS”;
Moyane’s intention to seek “an undertaking from the commission that it will stay clear of dealing with any issue which is the subject matter of the pending disputes” in the inquiry into the misconduct charges against him “so as to avoid double jeopardy and manifest unfairness”; and
Moyane’s interest in “participating in and co-operating with your commission and attending to the practical arrangements for doing so, in his capacity as the current commissioner of SARS”.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, told Times Select that while the presidency had “seen the letter” that Moyane’s attorneys sent to Nugent saying they would object to Katz’ involvement in the commission, “we have not received the objection”.
She declined to comment further.
Nugent responded to Mabuza by requesting that Moyane raise his objections on the first day of the SARS Inquiry hearings. Mabuza declined, and instead asked that Moyane’s submissions be made on Friday. After an exchange of correspondence, Nugent agreed...