22/03/2018 12:18 SAST | Updated 22/03/2018 12:31 SAST

Sars Battle: Moyane Gets Ready To Rumble

Suspended Sars commissioner Tom Moyane has enlisted the help of heavyweight senior counsel William Mokhari to challenge President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Theuns Kruger/Graphics24

Suspended commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) Tom Moyane has enlisted heavyweight senior counsel William Mokhari to fight his corner against President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa suspended Moyane on Monday night. In the letter of suspension, Ramaphosa says Moyane has brought Sars and government into disrepute, which poses "enormous" risks to the national revenue fund. Moyane was offered the opportunity to resign, which he declined.

Mokhari confirmed he has been instructed to prepare a legal opinion whether or not the suspension can be challenged in court. He told HuffPost: "I have been approached by Mr Moyane's attorney and asked to prepare an opinion in this regard. No decisions have been taken yet and we haven't filed any papers."

Mokhari is acting for Sars and Moyane in the defamation suit filed against former Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay. The institution is demanding R10-million in damages and Moyane R2-million in damages from Lackay after a 25-page memorandum about events at Sars which he wrote became public. Mokhari has, among others, previously acted for the government in the Mohamed Al-Bashir case, former president Jacob Zuma in the Nkandla case before the Constitutional Court.

Khusela Diko, Ramaphosa's spokesperson, told HuffPost the president was still consulting legal counsel as well as Nhlanhla Nene, the minister of finance, about the planned disciplinary process against Moyane, including who will be conducting it. "We expect the matter to be finalised before the end of the week though and should be in a position to give a more comprehensive response once the required decisions are made."

Moeketsi Raselo, Moyane's attorney, was not available for comment. Moyane did, however, say in a letter to Ramaphosa that he believed his suspension would be overturned by the courts on procedural grounds. He believes Ramaphosa's decision is unlawful and that he should be given the opportunity to make representations to the president before a decision about suspension is taken. In the letter, he also said Ramaphosa's decision was based on media reporting and that the head of state did not have all the facts necessary at his disposal to make a decision.