State pursues ‘rogue unit’ trio
‘Ready to prosecute’ those accused by axed Sars boss Moyane of corruption, illegal interception and spying
THE STATE IS STILL pursuing criminal charges lodged by expelled former SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane against three senior officials he accused of having operated a “rogue unit” which allegedly spied on senior politicians.
Yesterday, State prosecutor advocate Sello Maema confirmed the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision during the brief appearance of the three officials, former acting Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay, Andries Janse van Rensburg and Johann van Loggerenberg, in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.
Advocate Maema said the prosecuting authority was ready to prosecute the three on charges of corruption and illegal interception and spying.
“I am ready for trial,” Maema said. The case was postponed until February 14 next year in the High Court in Pretoria.
But the three, through their counsel, advocate Laurence Hodes SC, officially complained after the State’s refusal to give them access to documents and exhibits linking them to their involvement of a rogue unit.
They are also accused of illegal interceptions and spying on high profile politicians such as former president Jacob Zuma and the late former police commissioner Jackie Selebi.
They were formally charged on April9 this year after the Hawks had individually served them with summons exactly a month earlier.
During their initial appearance, the three asked the prosecution to provide them with exhibits and necessary documents, to prepare for their defence.
In their subsequent appearance, the three were only provided with certain parts of the investigation, which prompted their defence to make an application on August 23 to compel the state to provide all documentation, including exhibits.
Detailing impediments to his clients’ getting a fair trial, Hodes said: “During my clients’ last court appearance on August 23, we made a formal application to force the state to release certain documents to them.
“The prosecution that invited us to their offices on October 2. During our visit, we were only allowed to view certain documentation,” Hodes said.
He said the prosecution promised them that they would release those documents before today’s appearance, but had failed to do so.
Advocate Hodes said his instructing attorneys, Bernard Hotz, then received a communication from the State Attorney’s office yesterday informing him that his clients would not have access to those documents.
Outside court, Hotz said the prosecution has been reluctant to release crucial documents to his clients.
“We’ve been sent from pillar to post,” he said.
He said they would make another application to release the documents to his clients on February 14 next year.
The State’s decision to pursue criminal charges against the three comes after Sars Acting Commissioner Mark Kingon last month had already reviewed some of the litigation cases lodged by Moyane against various Sars officials and those linked to the institution. One of those includes a R10million lawsuit against former Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay and lawsuits against Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan and Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa fired Moyane after accepting recommendations of retired Judge Robert Nugent that Moyane was poor at revenue collections and there had been an exodus of highly skilled officials in Sars since he took office.
Judge Nugent, who is still tasked to probe the administration and governance at Sars during Moyane’s tenure since September 2014, also told Ramaphosa that his commission had not found any evidence confirming the existence of the rogue unit.
“I have not yet found why the creation and existence of the unit was said to have been unlawful, which is how it was consistently and uncritically depicted. I find no reason why the establishment and existence of the unit was indeed unlawful, and I am supported in that by an opinion given to Mr Moyane by leading senior counsel (advocate Wim Trengove) in late 2015,” Judge Nugent said.
The commission heard that Moyane ignored at least three legal opinions which dismissed the existence of the rogue unit, but despite that he went ahead and laid criminal charges against Pillay and his co-accused.
Moyane has given Ramaphosa until today to reverse his decision to fire him.
FORMER Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay leaves the Pretoria headquarters of the Hawks in August 2016, after presenting himself when the rogue unit claims were first investigated. |