Pretoria - Vlok Symington, the legal specialist who has worked at the South African Revenue Service for the past 25 years and who was involved in an alleged bizarre hostage drama at Sars last year, will have to face his disciplinary hearing.
The North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria on Friday turned down Symington’s application to interdict Sars from proceeding with the hearing.
Symington made headlines when he was at the centre of an alleged hostage drama at Sars on October 28, 2016 shortly before charges were levelled against former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Symington said he was a so-called whistleblower and he should be protected.
Symington laid complaints following his alleged hostage drama ordeal, but said in a sudden turn of events, he was the one to face a disciplinary hearing and not the real culprits, which he said included Moyane’s bodyguard, Tabo Titi.
Sars decided that both Symington and Titi had to face disciplinary charges.
These complaints relate to events at Sars head office when he was allegedly held hostage in the boardroom by Hawks officials and Titi. They at the time demanded certain documents from him which were eventually forcibly removed. It emerged that these documents contained an email trail between Sars, Advocate Torie Pretorius who was due to prosecute Gordhan and others.
The document was mistakenly given to Symington when he was handed a series of questions he had to answer, relating to the Gordhan arrests.
Sars told the court that the charges against Symington and the subsequent disciplinary hearing followed Symington’s conduct on the day which he claimed he was held hostage and it had nothing to do with protected disclosures.
Judge Hans Fabricius said Symington did not prove that he was under threat of being suspended at this stage. Nor were there allegations made by Symington to the court that Sars was not entitled to discipline its employees regarding allegations of misconduct.
The judge said Symington in any event had other remedies to his disposal if he was to be found guilty and thought that he did not get a fair hearing.
Symington earlier claimed that Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane was central to the criminal charges brought against Gordhan. But Judge Fabricius said this question was not the subject matter to be decided now by this court.
He said there were clearly conflicting facts as to what had happened during the altercation or scuffle in Sars boardroom last year. “In my view those events ought to have been settled with a handshake and a discussion over a beer. Mr Titi was prepared to accept an apology, whilst the applicant demanded his dismissal….The persons on that day in the boardroom conducted themselves in a less than dignified manners and that is about it,” the judge said.
He concluded that the disciplinary hearing will have to determine whether or not the charges raised against Symington have any merit.