Moyane stands by Makwakwa

SARS commissioner Tom Moyane.
SARS commissioner Tom Moyane.
Image: FREDDY MAVUNDA

South African Revenue Services (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane is standing by his decision to reinstate Jonas Makwakwa‚ despite a tax-evasion investigation and other serious allegations.

SARS’ lawyers also supported Moyane’s decision‚ saying the findings of an internal inquiry delivered on October 13 acquitted Makwakwa on all charges.

Makwakwa had been charged with contravening his suspension conditions and failure to “disclose an external business interest”.

Moyane was briefing the standing committee on finance on progress in the Makwakwa matter.

Moyane and SARS lawyers‚ however‚ confirmed that Makwakwa was facing tax and criminal investigations‚ as well as a money-laundering investigation.

Makwakwa is largely regarded as Moyane’s right-hand man within SARS. He was suspended in September 2016 along with his girlfriend‚ Kelly-Ann Elskie‚ also a SARS employee.

“The issue of misconduct; I think I explained it here. He [Makwakwa] was exonerated‚” Moyane said. “A report was given to us by advocate Terry Motau‚ and therefore that’s the decision that I took. So this matter was said in the last meeting. We stand by what we have said.”

Lavery Modise‚ chairman of law firm Hogan Lovells‚ said as far as tax-evasion allegations were concerned‚ “we were not involved in that one at all”.

But Modise pointed out that the allegations they were allowed to investigate‚ didn’t exonerate Makwakwa of all the allegations tabled in the FIC report.

The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) flagged several suspicious payments into Makwakwa’s bank account and that of another SARS employee‚ Kelly-Anne Elskie.

“To the best of my knowledge‚ the criminal and tax investigations are in progress and are conducted by the relevant bodies. Should the investigations find that there has been indeed an offence or contravention of tax legislation‚ discipliinary action must be taken against Makwakwa and Elskie‚” said Modise.

Modise said a hearing was conducted‚ which was chaired by advocate Terry Motau.

“The findings of that internal enquiry delivered to us on October 13‚ 2017‚ acquitted Makwakwa on both charges‚” said Modise.

Committee chairperson Yunus Carrim said the matter was in the public interest‚ and “will not disappear”.

“We need to address it‚” said Carrim. “The way it is being managed fuels suspicion that something wrong is being done.”

He questioned Moyane on what he had done towards further investigations into Makwakwa by other law enforcement agencies.

“So‚ have you made any attempts to reach out to the Hawks and find out what's going on? We have asked you before to go to Hawks to ask for progress. Why was this not done?” Carrim persevered. “You were verbally requested by a parliamentary committee to do that.”

Carrim also asked what Hogan Lovell’s relationsnhip with SARS was‚ and whether Modise had a personal relationship with Moyane.

DA MP David Maynier asked Moyane if SARS had investigated whether Makwakwa had committed a tax offence‚ and if so‚ what the finding was.

Alf Lees (DA) asked why Makwakwa was reinstated despite the tax-evasion investigation.

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