South African Revenue Service's human resource head, Luther Lebelo dismissed claims that he paid R759 000 to clear his name before the Nugent Commission of inquiry. PHOTO: Brenda Masilela/ANA

PRETORIA - The South African Revenue Service's (Sars) human resources head, Luther Lebelo on Monday, told the Nugent Commission of Inquiry that a law firm exceeded its mandate and was not asked to build a case to prove that the rogue unit existed.

Lebelo received the services of lawyer David Maphakela -- a partner at Mashiane, Moodley & Monama Inc -- which cost R759 000, for one month’s services.

Lebelo told the inquiry that reports which state that he spent close to R1 million to clear his name before the commission, were untrue.

He said the files on the rogue unit were not to clear his name, but he was doing it on behalf of Sars and thought they would be able to help the commission.

Retired judge Robert Nugent, who is chairing the commission, read instructions that Lebelo gave to Maphakela and it indicated that he was not solely instructed to collect documents. 

Lebelo dismissed Maphakela's version and said the invoice is in dispute and contains things he does not know, he said he has lodged a complaint and has not yet signed off on the amount.

Lebelo said he does not know why Maphakela went further and built a case and not just collected files as instructed.

He said Maphakela needed to answer to why he exceeded his mandate. 

The inquiry also heard that Maphakela’s law firm invoiced Sars R120 000 for reading a book to establish whether suspended commissioner Tom Moyane was referenced and whether it was defamatory. 

Earlier, Maphakela refused to testify before the commission despite a ruling by Nugent ruling that he was obliged to do so and opted to challenge the decision in court.

His attorney, advocate William Mokhari, said they saw no need for Maphakela to answer questions orally given that he had provided the commission with affidavits on the issues they had raised. 

Mokhari said they were under the impression that the commissioner was satisfied with the submissions made on the affidavits.

He explained that an affidavit is one of the mechanism available for the commission to obtain evidence, and said if the commission is not satisfied with the affidavit his client will need reasons for that.

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African News Agency (ANA)