When news of the now discredited “rogue unit” at the South African Revenue Service (Sars) broke, it created a flood of media enquiries, former Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay testified under cross-examination at the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
“During that period there were many negative news headlines, and by sheer number, it was unprecedented,” said Lackay.
“The institution had never attracted so many headlines and so much negative news coverage as at that moment.”
The former spokesperson is suing Sars for constructive dismissal, claiming working conditions became so bad he was forced into resigning from the company he had worked at for 12 years.
Lackay said when either he or his work partner were on sick or vacation leave, they would remain in constant with the office so as to assist each other with queries that needed to be handled urgently.
He said today he knew he was facing disciplinary action when he went on leave after failing to meet with Sars commissioner Tom Moyane following a request from his immediate superior, Dr Georgiou Radesich.
The meeting between Moyane and Lackay was supposed to heal the growing rift between the two, however, it never happened as Lackay claimed he had been unable to meet Moyane.
According to Lackay, Monyane also believed his emails were being intercepted.
When he tried to provide a rational explanation for Moyane’s email suspicions, this was not believed, said Lackay.
“There was a Sars official, Mr Kenneth Fitoyi, who was dismissed some time ago. He kept sending many emails with many allegations to the inbox of the Sars commissioner. There was a request his emails be blocked by the Sars systems. I believe that was the basis upon which commissioner Moyane believed his emails were being intercepted,” Lackay said.
Advocate Wisani Sibuyi for Sars suggested Lackay and Monyane had had a good working relationship, which Lackay discounted.
“In fact the opposite is true,” Lackay said. “That is the the reason why I’m here.”
The hearing continues on Thursday.