Dis­ci­plinary of top Sars man on ice

Ac­cused of giv­ing info to Ipid, NPA af­ter of­fice ‘hostage drama’

Pretoria News - - NEWS - ZELDA VENTER

VLOK Syming­ton, the le­gal spe­cial­ist who has worked at the South African Rev­enue Ser­vice (Sars) for the past 25 years and was at the cen­tre of an al­leged bizarre hostage drama at the tax­man’s of­fices, will not face a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing on Mon­day and Tues­day as planned.

Sars agreed yes­ter­day to place the hear­ing on ice un­til the Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria, ruled whether it should go ahead or not.

Syming­ton turned to court to ask for an or­der to in­ter­dict his em­ployer and Sars Com­mis­sioner Tom Moy­ane from in­sti­tut­ing dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against him. He is fac­ing four charges, which in­clude in­sub­or­di­na­tion, un­be­com­ing con­duct , the use of abu­sive lan­guage and bring­ing the name of Sars into dis­re­pute.

Syming­ton, who was cen­tral to an al­leged hostage drama at the head of­fice of Sars, made head­lines when he was al­legedly held hostage by the Hawks on Oc­to­ber 18 last year.

This was shortly be­fore then fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han was charged with fraud.

Syming­ton said he now faced dis­ci­plinary charges and pos­si­ble dis­missal for hav­ing made “pro­tected dis­clo­sures” to the In­de­pen­dent In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate, the Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions and to Sars as to what had hap­pened that day.

He said he could thus not face dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings as he was pro­tected in terms of the Pro­tected Dis­clo­sures Act, which pro­tected whis­tle-blow­ers.

Syming­ton laid com­plaints fol­low­ing his hostage drama or­deal, but said in a sud­den turn of events, he was the one to face a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing and not the real cul­prits, which she said in­cluded Moy­ane’s bodyguard, Tabo Titi.

Sars de­cided that they both had to face dis­ci­plinary charges.

These com­plaints re­late to events at Sars head of­fice when Syming­ton was al­legedly held hostage in the board­room by Hawks of­fi­cials and Titi. At the time they de­manded cer­tain doc­u­ments from him which were even­tu­ally forcibly re­moved. It emerged that these doc­u­ments con­tained an e-mail trail be­tween Sars, Ad­vo­cate Torie Pre­to­rius who was due to pros­e­cute Gord­han and oth­ers. The doc­u­ment was mis­tak­enly given to Syming­ton when he was handed a se­ries of ques­tions he had to an­swer, re­lat­ing to the Gord­han ar­rests.

The Hawks and Titi were so adamant to re­trieve the doc­u­ment con­tain­ing vi­tal in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing Gord­han’s ar­rest, that they forced it out of his hands.

An up­set Syming­ton com­plained to Sars about the way in which he was treated and he in­sti­tuted a for­mal grievance.

At­tor­ney Thipe Mothle was asked by Sars to in­ves­ti­gate whether there was a case to an­swer to. Mothle is­sued a re­port, clear­ing Syming­ton and ad­vis­ing that ac­tion should be taken against Titi. But a month later there was a com­plete about turn, with Sars hu­man re­sources ad­vis­ing Syming­ton and Titi that they would both face a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing.

Syming­ton is adamant that Monyane is be­hind this and he asked Ipid to in­ves­ti­gate.

He dis­closed cer­tain in­for­ma­tion to Ipid and the NPA as to what hap­pened on the day of the al­leged hostage drama and there­after.

But Sars said it de­cided to in­sti­tute dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against Syming­ton, purely based on his con­duct on Oc­to­ber 18 and not on the ba­sis of what hap­pened af­ter­wards.

Judge Hans Fabri­cius was told by Sars that Syming­ton couldn’t rely on pro­tected dis­clo­sures, as in the case of a whis­tle-blower, as the charges were based purely on his con­duct that day and not on in­for­ma­tion he had dis­closed to any­one.

Coun­sel for Syming­ton, on the other hand, said this case had noth­ing to do with the fact whether he would re­ceive a fair dis­ci­plinary hear­ing or not. The case was whether he should be pro­tected as a so-called whis­tle-blower or not.

Judge Fabri­cius re­served judg­ment.

PIC­TURE: ZELDA VENTER

Vlok Syming­ton with an uniden­ti­fed com­pan­ion in the Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria.

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