SARS welcomes judgement relating to Public Protector’s Report

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The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has welcomed the full bench judgment of the Gauteng Division of the High Court in the matter relating to the Public Protector’s Report on the so-called SARS Rogue Unit.

It comes after the High Court in Pretoria earlier on Monday set aside the Public Protector’s report.

In its judgment, the court issued a punitive costs order against Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

In the report, Mkhwebane found that former SARS Commissioner Pravin Gordhan, who is the current Public Enterprises Minister, had misled Parliament by failing to disclose that he held a meeting with members of the Gupta family.

She also found that Gordhan had violated intelligence laws by overseeing the establishment of the rogue unit.

The SARS Rogue Unit report had recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa discipline Gordhan for maladministration and corruption.

But the court said Mkhwebane relied on discredited information to compile her report and was biased against Gordhan and former SARS executive, Ivan Pillay.

High Court sets aside Mkhwebane’s report into Gordhan’s SARS Rogue unit: Prof Pierre de Vos:

In a statement issued on Monday, SARS said: “Today’s judgement is a strong reminder to any incumbent, present or in the future, who occupies the important role as Commissioner of SARS as well as every SARS employee of their duty to be administratively fair, respect the institutional mandate, and always act in line with constitutional principles of rational decision making, unbiased conduct and hearing the other side.”

The statement adds: “SARS is engaged in restoring institutional integrity and rebuilding capability, and this is an opportunity to refocus on the important work of collecting tax and customs revenues, improve tax compliance and restoring public confidence.”

Meanwhile, legal consultant, Paul Ngobeni, says Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, can lodge a Constitutional Court appeal to the High Court ruling which found against her on her SARS Rogue Unit report.

Ngobeni says that Mkhwebane can appeal on the basis that an old code of ethics was used:

“In exonerating Pravin Gordhan about misrepresentation to Parliament they are relying on the code of ethics from earlier years from 2000. The Constitutional Court itself in the Nkandla judgment relied on a 2007 code of ethics that code is the one former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela used and that the current Public Protector Mkhwebane used. I think that is a clear case of appeal the Constitutional Court is going to have to deal with the question of if the 2000 code is the one that is still valid and applicable why did they in the Zuma case use the 2007 code.”