Suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane Picture: Khaya Koko/The Star

Johannesburg - Tom Moyane, the embattled suspended commissioner of the South African Revenue Services (Sars), has asserted that President Cyril Ramaphosa "blinked" when responding to a list of demands his lawyers sent to him.

Moyane, who was speaking through his attorney Eric Mabuza at the Wanderers Protea Hotel in Joburg on Monday morning, also lashed his detractors, calling reports on the two inquiries against his client an "ongoing process of gratuitous insults, defamation" and being subjected to a "trial by media". 

This follows Moyane's legal representative at the Sars inquiry, Advocate Dali Mpofu, lambasting the ongoing probe into alleged governance problems at the revenue authority; labelling the investigation a "kangaroo court" and "blatantly unlawful", which is "prejudged" to find fault against his client.

Mpofu had also asked for the inquiry to be disbanded pending the outcome of Moyane's disciplinary hearing at Sars, which was announced by Ramaphosa in March after the president had suspended the beleaguered tax head.

Inquiry chairperson retired Judge Robert Nugent dismissed Mpofu's claims, calling them a disgrace. 

Mpofu had praised Moyane for being at the helm when Sars collected R1 trillion for the first time in its history. 

However, Cecil Morden, the former chief director in the economic and tax analysis unit at the National Treasury, called Mpofu's praise of Moyane's collection "smoke and mirrors", asserting: "It was inevitable that we would've reached the trillion-rand mark."

Morden's testimony followed Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan's equally scathing evidence at the inquiry of how Moyane had presided over a "deficit of information", especially regarding the roughly R300 million restructuring of the tax authority's model, when Gordhan returned as finance minister in December 2015.

Gordhan had previously been Sars commissioner from 1999 to 2009.  

Mabuza told the media that they had submitted a list of three demands to Ramaphosa, which included disbanding one or both of the inquiries against him, which includes the disciplinary hearing.

Ramaphosa had suspended Moyane in March pending the institution of disciplinary proceedings.

In a letter to Moyane explaining his suspension, the president wrote: "Developments at the Sars under your leadership have resulted in a deterioration in the public confidence in the institution and in public finances being compromised. For the sake of the country and the economy, this situation cannot be allowed to continue, or to worsen.”

Responding to the demands, Ramaphosa wrote that he understood that Moyane would face a hearing chaired by Advocate Bham SC on July 21, "at which the same objection pertaining to the alleged unfairness of the parallel processes involving your client will be argued and decided".

Ramaphosa added that he would await the outcome of the hearing before deciding his next course of action.

This was what Mabuza used to say that the president blinked in responding to his client's list of demands.

Mabuza said that, should Moyane be found not guilty at both probes into him, he should return to Sars "And serve the country". 

The Star