Former Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency/ANA
Johannesburg - Retired Judge Robert Nugent has maintained that poor tax and revenue collection by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) prompted his “urgent and final recommendation” to President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire suspended boss Tom Moyane.

He was reacting to criticism levelled against him by Moyane’s lawyer Eric Mabuza, who said his recommendation was premature and allegedly went beyond his mandate.

On Thursday, Judge Nugent reiterated that he made the final recommendation because there was “something fundamentally wrong with the collection of taxes. It can get worse,” he said.

He said more than 60 to 70 witnesses appeared and testified that there was poor revenue collection since a moratorium was placed on the modernisation programme.

The programme, the commission heard, allowed Sars to register taxpayers and to widen its base including big business and multinationals doing business in South Africa.

Judge Nugent said it was not unusual for a person heading a commission of inquiry to make an interim recommendation before the conclusion of his mandate.

“I am not going to comment on this when I make my final report in November. That was my final recommendation on Mr Moyane’s fitness to hold office. It is up to the president to accept.

“I made the recommendation due to the urgent need to ensure that taxes are collected and revenue is made for the country. We need a new leader who can make it happen. We are halfway into the tax season. What is going to be the consequences?”

The judge said he is not the first person to make interim findings, saying Professor Michael Katz, who also sits on the commission, also made similar findings in the past.

“Professor Michael Katz was appointed by Nelson Mandela to look into our tax structure in 1994. Professor Katz’s commission lasted for three years. During the process, he gave many interim reports. He will report and government will implement some of his recommendations,” Judge Nugent said.

He was adamant that he gave Moyane ample opportunity to react to allegations against him but he chose not to.

Judge Nugent said Moyane did not want to take the opportunity offered to him and therefore “should not blame the commission”.

Earlier this week, Mabuza said: “We were shocked Judge Nugent recommended as he did because what he has done has undermined the president and advocate (Azhar) Bham, SC. The president set two processes, one the Nugent, and the other the disciplinary, process before Bham,” Mabuza said.

He said Ramaphosa did not ask Judge Nugent to deal with Moyane’s employment matter.

Judge Nugent agreed, saying: “We had enough on our plate. We did not look into his disciplinary matters. Advocate Bham was dealing with employment. We are dealing with management issues.”

The hearings continue.

Political Bureau