Randall Carolissen, who is the revenue service's group executive for revenue planning and analysis and reporting at SARS said the debt book grew from R85bn to R135bn during the tenure of suspended commissioner Tom Moyane. Picture: Brenda Masilela/ANA

Pretoria - The South African South African Revenue Services (Sars) debt book grew from R85bn to R135bn during the tenure of suspended commissioner Tom Moyane, the Nugent Commission heard on Tuesday.

Randall Carolissen, who heads the Revenue, Planning, Analysis and Reporting at Sars, testified on the second leg of the Nugent Commission, which is probing tax administration and governance issues at the revenue services. 

The inquiry, which began its work in June, was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa after he suspended Moyane. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed retired judge Robert Nugent in June to chair the commission to also probe allegations of financial misconduct at Sars, including a shortfall of R50-billion between 2014 and 2018 under Moyane.

Ramaphosa suspended Moyane following a breakdown of trust in his running of the organisation

Carolissen said Moyane came up with a new operating model which destabilised the revenue services. 

He further testified that the radical restructuring was not communicated with them.

"None of us anticipated the radical restructuring. No, definitely not."

He said Moyane’s operating model was an erosion of excellence and was unnecessary as they were meeting their core mandate. 

"There were people working for the organisation for 25 years, they were suddenly put in the departure lounge and we were left wondering what they did wrong," he said.

He explained how the tax compliance section was split up saying they were all over the place. 

"So when we wanted to update our compliance strategy there was no one to do it."

Earlier, it emerged that people went through a traumatic event after the appointment of Moyane and some are afraid to come forward and give evidence. 

“People have point blank refused to come and talk to us. I can compel them, but they remain fearful,” said Nugent.

Carolissen confirmed that Sars was aware of the situation and discussed this and the staff had been given assurance. 

This second session will sit until next week Friday.

African News Agency (ANA)