Fired Sars commissioner Tom Moyane. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - The appointment of a new commissioner of SA Revenue Services (Sars) is set to be open and transparent, like the process followed to appoint Shamila Batohi, the new National Director of Public Prosecutions.

On Tuesday, the North Gauteng High Court upheld President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision to fire disgraced former Sars boss Tom Moyane, in a scathing judgment.

Ramaphosa, in response to the judgment, said he would “in line with the recommendations of the Nugent Commission" soon initiate the process to appoint a new Sars commissioner.

In September Judge Nugent - who conducted a probe into administration and governance at Sars while Moyane was at the helm - urged in his recommendation that Ramaphosa takes steps without delay to remove Moyane from office and appoint a new commissioner.

“To inspire confidence in a new commissioner of Sars the commission further recommends that he or she be appointed through an open and transparent process that is subject to critical appraisal, but without compromising the urgency of the appointment,” Judge Nugent said.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said Ramaphosa welcomed the judgment as a step towards stabilising Sars at a time when efficient revenue collection and tax justice were vital to economic recovery and restoring the confidence of corporate and personal taxpayers in this important public institution.

The president expressed his sentiments after Judge Hans Fabricius ruled that his decision to fire Moyane was rational, lawful and fair, and was intended to restore stability in the revenue authority.

Judge Fabricius said it could not be in the public interest or national interest for Sars to be burdened by the return of a commissioner who is on suspension and who has also lost the confidence of the president.

“I have read the interim report of the Commission in so far as it is necessary. I must say I agree with its conclusions that led the president to ultimately dismiss Mr Moyane.

“In particular I agree with its summary and I agree with the absolute need to remedy this disaster on an urgent basis” Judge Fabricius said.

The Judge also dismissed Moyane's application on the grounds that it was not urgent.

The Judge was adamant that Moyane had failed to establish a prima facie right to set aside Ramaphosa’s decision to accept the recommendation of the Nugent Commission.

“The commission was lawfully established and acted within its terms of reference. The interim report was lawfully issued and the president was empowered to remove Mr Moyane in terms of Section 6 of the Sars Act and did so lawfully and rationally."

Judge Fabricius ordered Moyane to pay the legal costs of Ramaphosa and Judge Nugent, saying his conduct in the proceedings was "reprehensible”.

“It is vexatious and abusive. Both the office of the president and Judge Nugent have been attacked, insulted and defamed without any reasonable cause."

Moyane's lawyer Eric Mabuza was confident that his client would succeed in his main application but Judge Fabricius had already cast doubt on it in his ruling on Tuesday.

The Star