In an unexpected turn of events, suspended South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Tom Moyane has retreated on charging former spokesperson Adrian Lackay with defamation and has withdrawn the R12 million lawsuit.
Lawyers for Sars and Moyane have withdrawn the civil proceedings against Lackay, he said on Sunday.
Lackay had a target on his back after he addressed a letter to parliament’s standing committee on intelligence several months after Moyane came into office, detailing the commissioner’s role in tarnishing the state institution, while repudiating allegations of a “rogue unit” within Sars, as stated by Moyane and Sunday newspapers.
Moyane and Sars filed a R12 million lawsuit against Lackay, claiming defamation.
But according to a notice from the High Court in Pretoria, dated September 27, the two plaintiffs, Moyane and Sars, decided to withdraw the charges against Lackay. The reasons are unknown.
When contacted yesterday, Moyane immediately hung up when The Citizen made our introduction.
He did not respond to calls or texts either. Acting Sars commissioner Mark Kingon also could not furnish further information, stating he was not updated on the matter.
“I don’t have information at hand. I will have to get an update from the legal people. The last I dealt with this was two weeks ago,” he told The Citizen.
Lackay’s last-ditch effort to extricate Sars from its current predicament began with his submissions to the then chairperson of the standing committee on intelligence, Yunus Carrim, and Cornelia September, chairperson of the joint standing committee on intelligence, on March 23, 2015.
But the ongoing legal case put a strain on Lackay and his family and “wasn’t easy”, he told The Citizen.
“It was difficult for my family, also. But I had the wonderful support of my former Sars colleagues and my wife. It is a relief but I am still feeling quite emotional at this point.”
“Regrettably, the parliamentary committees chose not to consider or entertain the substance of my submission. Instead, Dr Dion George, a former DA [Democratic Alliance] member of the [standing committee on finance], released my letter to the media and Sars and Moyane responded by instituting civil proceedings against me,” Lackay said.
It was also regrettable that many of the concerns outlined in March 2015 regarding Sars and its revenue collection capability “seem to have materialised, as evidence and testimony before the current Nugent Commission of Inquiry into Sars have shown”, he said.
Considerable damage had been caused not only to Sars, but to the careers and reputations of many former and current Sars colleagues as well, Lackay said.
“In particular, my former Sars colleagues, Messers Ivan Pillay and Johann van Loggerenberg, are still being persecuted. They still face criminal charges before court based on the allegations of a ‘rogue unit’ despite such allegations being extensively disproved. They need our continued support and vigilance to ensure that justice also prevails for them and their families,” Lackay said.
When Lackay’s 2015 submission was leaked to the media by the DA it contained startling insight into the machinations behind the scenes of what pointed to targeting of Sars as a credible institute – allegedly aided and abetted by Moyane.
Lackay then made his submission: “The context of my employment at Sars as the official media liaison and spokesperson, and for the specific period since September 2014, which coincides with the appointment of Mr Tom Moyane (the commissioner).
“During the latter part of 2014, I was caused by the commissioner to issue statements to the media and it became apparent to me at a later stage that such public statements contained false and incorrect information.”
No action appeared to have been taken by either committee, leading to the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance at Sars. – Additional reporting, ANA