The lawyer for suspended South African Revenue Service (Sars) head Tom Moyane said on Friday an inquiry into the operation of the agency should be halted pending a disciplinary hearing against his client.
Moyane’s lawyer Advocate Dali Mpofu told a commission led by judge Robert Nugent into lax tax administration and governance at Sars since 2014 that “a matter cannot be tried twice for the same offence”.
Five Sars officials testified before the commission on Wednesday – one of them still working for the service while four resigned at various stages during Moyane’s tenure. They have painted a negative picture of his leadership at the revenue collector.
Mpofu said those who testified were a string of disgruntled people and that some of whom were part of a so-called “rogue unit” said to have operated illegally at Sars.
“Everyone who sat on this chair has gone on about the terrible Moyane,” Mpofu said, lambasting the inquiry for not inviting Moyane to defend himself. “It is the most grossest [sic] and unfair processes in the democracy.”
He said the inquiry should not treat Moyane differently because he had been suspended.
“He is not fired, he is not guilty until proven otherwise,” he said, adding that Moyane might return to his position.
Mpofu also called for the removal of Michael Katz from the inquiry, saying he was friends with President Cyril Ramaphosa who suspended Moyane and had legally represented Ramaphosa in a previous case.
Nugent told Mpofu he was only responsible for one inquiry.
“I don’t know why there are two separate tribunals, and I’m not interested,” he said. “I have accepted the proclamation that I must do this work and do it by November.”
A visibly annoyed Nugent refused to accept a memory stick from Mpofu apparently containing evidence that contradicted what witnesses had told the hearing.
Nugent emphasised that the inquiry was not a trial and he was not making findings against any individual.
“We are finding facts to report to the president and what he does with them is up to him,” he said.
A preliminary report into the inquiry is expected in September with the final version due in November.