Sars 'rogue unit' claims set for court
Johann van Loggerenberg, Ivan Pillay and Andries van Rensburg turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, this week for an urgent order to stay their prosecution, pending the outcome of a later application in which they will ask that the decision to prosecute them, be reviewed.
The NPA, in the latest development, said it would allow the trio the opportunity to make representations before the end of April. Their appearance at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court is still set to go ahead.
Their urgent application was on Tuesday removed from the urgent roll by agreement, which was noted by Judge Natvarlal Ranchod.
Summons were served on the three on March 9 by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) to appear in court in connection with charges under the Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
Suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane initiated the charges against the three.
It relates to the so-called rogue unit within Sars which was allegedly set up to spy on the NPA during the time of the prosecution of former police commissioner Jackie Selebi, dating back to 2007/8.
Van Loggerenberg, in an affidavit before court, said as soon as they received the summons, their attorney sent a letter to NPA boss Shaun Abrahams to withdraw the summons against them, reconsider prosecution and afford them a chance to make representations in this regard. “We received absolutely no response,” said Van Loggerenberg.
He stated that when Abrahams appeared before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts last month, he indicated that he was not behind the charges, but that he was merely briefed on the decision to prosecute the three.
Van Loggerenberg said it became clear to them that Abrahams had not had the opportunity to apply his mind to the merits of the decision to prosecute them. They again wrote a letter to him in which they asked that he urgently reconsidered the decision to prosecute them. They also wanted answers as to why they were now suddenly charged, 18 months after the investigation had been completed.
They once again received no response to their request.
“Although we do not have the right to require the respondent to set aside the decision to prosecute us, we certainly have the right, in the particular circumstances, to make submissions”
Van Loggerenberg added that they simply want Abrahams to hear their submissions and then to reconsider the charges. He said there was substantial prejudice to them if they were forced to appear in court on Monday.
This is especially so in the case of Pillay, who was formerly a highly regarded deputy commissioner at Sars. He is “being very seriously considered for reinstatement as a senior official at Sars in order to restore public confidence and respect for Sars as an institution”, Van Loggerenberg stated.
He said Pillay was both willing and able to return to Sars in this capacity.
According to him, no warning statements were taken from them regarding the charges they were due to face and they felt that they had a right to be heard.