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By Citizen Reporter


Saying sorry ‘when it matters’: Sars hopes apology will bring ‘closure’

Kieswetter said Sars could never fully compensate employees or reverse what happened to them.

An apology issued by the South African Revenue Service (Sars) to employees affected by state capture has been labelled by commissioner Edward Kieswetter as “heartfelt” gesture of restoration and closure.

On Thursday, recommendations made by a committee established by Kieswetter to foster healing and remedial action coincided with a Constitutional Court dismissing suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s latest bid to defend findings of the controversial ‘Rogue Unit’ report.

ALSO READ: Sars apologises, compensates former employees affected by Zuma ‘witch-hunt’

Path of destruction

In addition to a public apology by the Sunday Times, and retractions of the Sikhakhane Report, the KMPG report, and findings made by the Kroon Advisory Board, Sars was now doing serious damage control to make right by those whose reputations were shattered for close to a decade.

Some employees who were harmed during former president Jacob Zuma and his henchmen, notably former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane, between 2014 and 2018, include former deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, former group executive for strategic planning and risk Peter Richer, former Sars executive Johann van Loggerenberg and former Sars spokespeople Adrian Lackay and Marika Miller.

ALSO READ: ConCourt dismisses Mkhwebane’s latest appeal application over Sars ‘rogue unit’ report

Picking up the pieces

Kieswetter told SAfm’s Stephen Grootes in an interview on Friday, Sars could never fully compensate employees or reverse what happened to them.

“But I think every one of these employees must feel they have been heard and that to some extent there has been some form of reparation… healing and closure to what was an unfortunate and terrible event [that] can now finally be put to bed.”

Kieswetter said the “sincere and absolutely heartfelt apology” will hopefully bring “closure”.

“Each of us… must learn to say sorry when it matters. I think I often say that more hurtful than you hurting me is then subsequently you denying that you’ve hurt me.”

He said Sars as an institution was also hit and “is in fact still bleeding” from damages inflicted when it was captured.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Sars said it acknowledged “that it failed to defend and protect its employees when the false allegations and imputations of wrongdoing resurfaced in October 2014 and in the subsequent years thereafter.”

Kieswetter told Grootes when asked how so many people “got it wrong” when false accusations were levelled against employees it was not a matter of mistakes made as “corrupt intent”.

“I do not believe these were honest mistakes… There has been incontrovertible [evidence] that there was corrupt intent. Others may have inadvertently been caught up and either complicit or compliant… but this was not a mistake.

“This was a deliberate attempt to weaken the organisation.”

Some employees who agreed to their names being made public as part of the apology include Ivan Pillay, Peter Richer, Andries Janse van Rensburg, Johann van Loggerenberg, Adrian Lackay, Pieter de Bod, Gilbert Gunn, Nkele Pitsi, Siobhan Wilson, Telita Snyckers, Charl Fourie, Gene Ravele and Marika Muller.

Compiled by Nica Richards. Additional reporting by Moneyweb.

NOW READ: Sars ‘rogue unit’: Propaganda will always remain for those it benefits, says Loggerenberg

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