Sars ‘whistle-blower’ disciplinary halted
VLOK Symington, a legal specialist who has worked at Sars for the past 25 years and was at the centre of an alleged hostage drama at its offices, will not face a disciplinary hearing next week as planned.
Sars yesterday agreed to postpone the hearing until the high court in Pretoria ruled whether it should continue.
Symington asked the court for an order to interdict Sars and its commissioner, Tom Moyane, from instituting disciplinary proceedings against him.
He faces charges of insubordination, unbecoming conduct, the use of abusive language and bringing Sars into disrepute.
Symington made headlines when he was allegedly held hostage by the Hawks on October 18 last year, 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 Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), the National Director of Public Prosecutions and to Sars, as to what happened that day.
He said he could not face disciplinary action as he was protected by the Protected Disclosures Act.
Symington laid complaints following his ordeal, but said he had been the one to face a disciplinary hearing and not the real culprits, which he said included Moyane’s bodyguard, Tabo Titi.
These complaints relate to Symington allegedly being held hostage in a Sars boardroom by Hawks officials and Titi.
Attorney Thipe Mothle had been asked by Sars to investigate whether there was a case.
Mothle issued a report, clearing Symington and advising that action be taken against Titi.
But a month later, Sars told Symington and Titi that they faced a disciplinary hearing.
Symington asked Ipid to investigate.
Sars said it had instituted disciplinary action against Symington based on his conduct on October 18, and not on what happened afterwards.
Judge Hans Fabricius has been told by Sars that Symington cannot rely on the Protected Disclosures Act, as the charges were based on his conduct and not on information he had disclosed to anyone.
Symington’s counsel said the case had nothing to do with whether he would receive a fair disciplinary hearing or not, but rather whether he should be protected as a whistle-blower.
Vlok Symington, left, in the high court in Pretoria.