NEWS
03/04/2018 08:47 SAST | Updated 03/04/2018 09:31 SAST

Former Sars Officials Head To Court To Stop Prosecution

Ivan Pillay, Johan van Loggerenberg and Andries Janse van Rensburg say they are being unfairly targeted by Sars.

The Times via Getty Images
Then-Sars commissioner Tom Moyane during his appearance before Parliament's finance committee on November 28, 2017 in Cape Town. Moyane appeared before the committee to present Sars' annual report and to field questions about the suspension, investigation and reinstatement of Jonas Makwakwa.

Three former SARS officials are scheduled to bring an application against the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Tuesday in an effort to stay the prosecution against them, Business Day reported. But the application might not go ahead, as the three were reportedly in talks with the NPA on Tuesday.

Ivan Pillay, Andries Janse van Rensburg and Johann van Loggerenberg were reportedly served a summons in February in connection with the alleged bugging of the NPA offices in 2007. They were due to appear in court on April 9.

According to Eyewitness News (EWN), the allegations stem from now-discredited reports that during the investigations into former police chief Jackie Selebi, between June and November 2007, Sars officials bugged the NPA's offices. Pillay and Van Rensburg are alleged to have hired Helgard Lombard to spy on the Scorpions at their NPA offices, while Pillay and Van Loggerenberg are alleged to have paid Lombard R100,000 for his services.

This forms part of the allegations that Sars had a "rogue unit" in operation which, among other things, illegally spied on politicians. Many of the claims about the "rogue unit" have been disproven.

But the three vehemently deny the charges. Their lawyer, Werksmans Attorneys' Bernard Hotz, told EWN in March, shortly after the three were charged, "It actually unbelievable to say the least. The case number is the very same case number going back to 2015, where the complaint is none other than Mr (Tom) Moyane on behalf of Sars, and we saw what happened last year with the attempted prosecution of Mr (Pravin) Gordhan."

Moyane was fired by President Cyril Ramaphosa last month.

Van Loggerenberg has said in an affidavit that appearing in court on April 9 will result in "substantial prejudice" against himself and his co-accused, according to Business Day. Pillay, for example, is widely reported as being considered for reinstatement at Sars, he reportedly said.

"Pillay is both willing and able to return to SARS in this capacity if so requested," Van Loggerenberg reportedly said in his affidavit.

Van Loggerenberg also reportedly said the three had written to national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams to ask him to withdraw the summons and give them the opportunity to make representations, but they had received no response.

In his book "The President's Keepers", investigative journalist Jacques Pauw wrote that Moyane allegedly framed Pillay and other senior Sars employees for financial wrongdoing, after they had gone after senior politicians, including Jacob Zuma, for alleged tax avoidance.

According to News24, the allegations against the three centre on the narrative that the Sars senior investigators wanted information held by the Scorpions on Jacob Zuma while he was still deputy president. But the allegations have also been branded as a smear campaign, allegedly circulated by people who want to discredit senior Sars officials who investigate powerful politicians, criminals and tax-dodgers.