South African Revenue Service (SARS) boss Tom Moyane is considering court action against "The President's Keepers" author Jacques Pauw, because his "image and integrity has been blemished" by its contents, SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela told eNCA on Wednesday.
This follows confirmation by Pauw on Tuesday that SARS filed a High Court application against Pauw, accusing him of contravening the Tax Administration Act by disclosing confidential taxpayer information in the explosive book.
SARS said the contents in the book show blatant contravention of the law in that an individual's tax affairs are discussed and allegations made that Moyane aided a taxpayer in avoiding their tax obligations.
Pauw and NB Publishers on Tuesday fought back, saying charges laid against him simply confirm the veracity of claims contained in the bestselling book.
Questioning what SARS would hope to achieve by having a court order declare that Pauw violated taxpayer confidentiality, Memela told eNCA it would teach people "that it is against the law for anyone to discuss or divulge any taxpayer affairs".
.@MichelleL_Craig asks Memela what SARS is hoping to achieve by getting a declaratory order that #JacquesPauw violated taxpayer confidentiality:— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) December 20, 2017
"We are educating people that it is against the law for anyone to discuss or divulge any taxpayer affairs."
Memela also denied that Moyane's court action against Pauw would reveal President Zuma's tax affairs, saying that whoever has such information would still need a court order in order to share it.
Memela denies that this is the first time that SARS has gone to court over alleged taxpayer confidentiality breaches. He says SARS took legal action against @amaBhungane in the High Court - and outcome of this case still pending.— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) December 20, 2017
"This is not a witch hunt" against Pauw, he says
According to News24, athough court papers were not served on NB Publishers, it has said it would defend Pauw and the book "vigorously" against Moyane's application.
The SARS action has come under fire in several circles, with many observers echoing the sentiment that Moyane has shot himself in the foot and confirmed the truthfulness of Pauw's claims.
Memela, however, refused to comment on eNCA whether the litigation confirms the truth of the claims about President Zuma's taxes.
"There is no way I can deny or confirm what they are saying because that in itself will be me getting entangled in a debate about a taxpayers affairs," Memela told eNCA.
If I make up story that Tom Moyane or anybody else owed R1 million in taxes and I state this falsehood in a book or article, am I then guilty of illegally divulging a private citizen's tax affairs? Clearly not? #SARS— Max du Preez (@MaxduPreez) December 20, 2017
Tom Moyane confirms truth of President Keepers by suing Jacques Pauw.— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) December 19, 2017
Moyane says legal action NB to "give confidence to the public knowing that taxpayer information would not be willy-nilly disclosed by third parties who have no authority to be in possession of such information" https://t.co/KrwESIisv5
So from Tom Moyane's most recent ridiculous act, we get de facto confirmation from SARS that what Jacques Pauw said about Zuma's tax affairs is entirely correct. Moyane can't claim it's not true if he's going to court saying the info was "confidential"... https://t.co/4210qD3FbG— Rob Rose (@robrose_za) December 19, 2017
On the other side, Commissioner of SARS Tom Moyane is forging ahead with his litigation against @Jaqqs because of the book, "Presidents Keepers", strange in his papers he doesn't dispute there's undeclared second income thus tax not being paid on it by president Zuma pic.twitter.com/lkaFB5KmIt— Azania Matiwane (@AzaniaMatiwane) December 20, 2017