State pur­sues ‘rogue unit’ trio

‘Ready to pros­e­cute’ those ac­cused by axed Sars boss Moy­ane of cor­rup­tion, il­le­gal in­ter­cep­tion and spy­ing

The Star Late Edition - - NATION - BALD­WIN NDABA bald­win.ndaba@inl.co.za

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.

PHILL MAGAKOE

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. | African News Agency (ANA)

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