Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has hit back at former senior SA Revenue Service (Sars) officials who are demanding a retraction of comments she made about the so-called “rogue unit” at the tax collecting authority.
Mkhwebane was reacting to a legal letter of demand served on her by former Sars officials Ivan Pillay and Johan van Loggerenberg on Friday.
Pillay and Van Loggerenberg served her with an urgent demand asking her to immediately retract the comments she made on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts on June 3 this year.
The pair were also demanding that Mkhwebane retract and apologise for comments she made when she addressed in her official capacity a gala dinner of the South African Sheriff Society at the Highlands Golf and Trout Estate at Dullstroom in Mpumalanga on June 7.
In their complaint, Pillay and Van Loggerenberg say in the YouTube video, Mkhwebane had falsely alleged that “when it comes to issues of the rogue unit, people have lost lives, people have been tainted and I think that is still going to happen”.
They further alleged in her Facebook posts and tweets, Mkhwebane wrote she had been faced with “threats of arrest for money laundering etc and poisoning since I started investigating the so-called Rogue Unit”.
Pillay and Van Loggerenberg now contend that Mkhwebane’s posts are false and defamatory.
Mkhwebane was given until 10am on Tuesday to retract her comments, but she wrote to Pillay and Van Loggerenberg’s legal team and disputed the allegations against her.
She also, through her spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, on Tuesday rejected the allegations against her and vowed not to apologise or retract her statements, saying all the revelations she made “were factual and within her personal knowledge”.
“The public protector will neither apologise nor retract the statements she made, as they are neither false nor defamatory. Nowhere in her statements does she mention Mr Pillay and Mr Van Loggerenberg.”
Segalwe said Mkhwebane was talking about information that was factual and fell “within her personal knowledge”.
“Mr Pillay and Mr Van Loggerenberg are free to exercise their rights to legal recourse.
“The public protector will defend such matter,” Segalwe said.
On Tuesday night Pillay and Van Loggerenberg did not want to comment on Mkhwebane’s reaction.