Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
25 Mar 2021
3:51 pm

Memo that gave green light for retirement not shared with Hawks, Zondo told

Molefe Seeletsa

Sars employee Symongton authored a legal memorandum in 2009 on whether Pravin Gordhan was permitted to pay out Ivan Pillay's pension fund.

South African Revenue Service employee Vlok Symington after testifying to the Zondo commission. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

South African Revenue Service (Sars) employee Vlok Symington returned to the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture for the second day running on Thursday with former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement once again in the spotlight.

Symington, on Wednesday dished out details that allegedly had him held him hostage by members of the Hawks and former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane bodyguard Thabo Titi in a boardroom at the Sars office in Pretoria.

The drama was said to be triggered by an email Moyane mistakenly shared of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) lead prosecutor requesting Brigadier Nyameka Xaba to obtain a statement from Symington.

ALSO READ: Vlok Symington tells Zondo Sars ‘hostage drama’ details

Symington found himself in the middle of the Hawks and NPA’s pursuit of then finance minister Pravin Gordhan as they sought to criminally charge him for approving Pillay’s early retirement.

This was after Moyane laid criminal charges against Gordhan. The Hawks and NPA also pursued the minister over the so-called Sars “rogue unit”.

Symington authored a legal memorandum in 2009 about whether Gordhan was permitted to pay out Pillay’s pension fund and then let him return to Sars.

He faced disciplinary action after he revealed Sars did not share the memorandum with the Hawks or NPA.

Symongton said another memorandum drafted by attorney David Maphakela, who advised Sars on the criminal case, was not shared with the Hawks and NPA, which confirmed that Pillay’s retirement was in line with the law.

Earlier this week, former Bain & Company partner Athol Williams told the commission how a special project – Project Phoenix – was conceptualised to restructure and reshape South Africa’s entire economy through several state-owned enterprise (SOEs) including Telkom, Eskom and Sars.

READ MORE: Zuma pocketed spy money, spent millions on positive media spin, Zondo hears

The Sars narrative suggested that Gordhan was an obstacle for former president Jacob Zuma and his camp to capture the national Treasury, so the allegations against him were thought to have been enough to remove Gordhan as finance minister.

The charges against Gordhan were later withdrawn by the NPA.

Watch the proceedings below, courtesy of the SABC:

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