Former SARS officials due in court

Former SARS officials due in court

The three were served with summonses in early March.


Three former officials from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) are set to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning on charges of unlawful interception of communication and corruption.


It relates to a former investigation unit within SARS – commonly referred to as the ‘Rogue Unit’.


Prosecutors accuse Ivan Pillay and Andries Janse van Rensburg of commissioning Helgard Lombard to intercept the communications of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) without the authorisation of a judge.


Pillay also stands accused of corruption, along with Johann van Loggerenberg. Almost a year after the alleged interception, the two allegedly paid Lombard an amount of around R100 000 in the latter half of 2008. The state believes this money was gratification for the interception. 

Alternatively, the NPA suspects the alleged monies could have been paid to get Lombard to “act in a manner that amounts to the illegal, dishonest, unauthorised, incomplete or biased” execution of his duties.


A small victory


An urgent application, brought by the former officials, was removed from the court roll only last week after they managed to reach an agreement with the NPA.


Prosecutors agreed to allow the trio to make submission and tell their side of the story, as they have been asking to do since the previous case was withdrawn in late 2016.


Their attorney, Bernard Hotz however was unwilling to elaborate on when these submissions might be made and whether it took place before their appearance on Monday.


A recent letter by their lawyers describe the summons as “out of the blue” given the 18 months that passed since the initial charges were withdrawn against Pillay and other former SARS officials, including then finance minister Pravin Gordhan.


The letter also states that the three officials were not contacted by the investigators or the prosecutors before they were asked to appear in court.


The ongoing case against the officials come despite the previous case being dropped and the auditing firm implicating them in wrongdoing, admitting to shortcomings in its own report.


Due to vague language, and a failure to comply with quality requirements and risk assessments, KPMG South Africa, in September last year, said the report’s “conclusions, recommendations and legal opinions should no longer be relied upon”.

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