NPP to withdraw charges against former SARS 'rogue unit' accused
Johannesburg - The NPA has announced on Friday that it is withdrawing charges against three former senior SARS officials, who were accused of involvement in setting up a "rogue unit" within the South African Revenue Service.
The National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Advocate Shamila Batohi withdrew charges against Ivan Pillay, Andries Janse Van Rensburg and Johan Van Loggerenberg, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Friday.
The NDPP said it had informed relevant prosecutors and the lawyers for the accused of its decision.
The former SARS officials faced various charges, including that they had set up an illegal unit within SARS to spy on taxpayers.
Pillay and Van Rensburg were charged with contravening the Regulation of Interception of Communication and Provision of Communication Related Information Act, after they were accused of bugging the offices of the former Directorate of Special Operations (DSO or Scorpions) in the NPA.
Pillay and Van Loggerenberg were charged with contravening the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
After protracted litigation and communication on the matter between the defence and the NPA, and representations to the NDPP to have the decision to prosecute reviewed, the NDPP appointed a Review Panel to consider the matter, and to provide her with an opinion and recommendations.
Made up of Director of Public Prosecutions, Barry Madolo, Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Indra Goberdan, and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Adrian Mopp, the panel finally recommended that all charges against the three be dropped.
"After a careful assessment of the evidence and other relevant material, the unanimous conclusion of the panel in respect of all counts, is that there are no reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution," the NDPP said.
"When instituting or maintaining criminal proceedings, a prosecutor should proceed only when a case is well founded, upon evidence contained in the police case docket reasonably believed to be reliable and admissible, and should not continue such proceedings in the absence of such evidence, that is, if there is no prima facie case," the statement read.
After considering the panel's report and discussions with it, the NDPP agreed with it and decided to withdraw the charges.
African News Agency/ANA