Oupa Magashula also takes public protector to task over report

Former head of the SA Revenue Service Oupa Magashula and Freedom Under Law (FUL) are dismayed by the public protector's findings on the pension payout made to former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

Magashula has now joined Pillay and minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan, who have indicated they will legally challenge Busisiwe Mkhwebane's findings.

At a media briefing on Friday, Mkhwebane announced she had found that Gordhan, who was minister of finance in 2010, should not have approved the early retirement with full benefits and subsequent re-employment of Pillay.

Magashula was the head of Sars at the time. He resigned in 2013.  

Mkhwebane called on newly sworn in President Cyril Ramaphosa to take appropriate disciplinary action against Gordhan for violating the constitution, and submit an implementation plan for the remedial action within 30 days.

Pieter Viljoen from Savage Jooste and Adams Attorneys, speaking on behalf of Magashula, said they had been instructed to immediately institute review proceedings against the public protector’s report and recommendations she published on Friday.

“The indecent haste with which the Public Protector then made public her findings on the 24th of May 2019 is in our client’s view an indication of the fact that little and/or no regard was had to the evidence and supplementary submissions,” Viljoen said in a statement.

FUL CEO Nicole Fritz said FUL was dismayed but not surprised to learn of the public protector’s findings in respect of Pillay’s early retirement and Gordhan’s authorisation of the retirement.

“The matters canvassed in the Public Protector’s report are the exact same matters as those which frame one of the most notorious episodes in the National Prosecuting Authority’s history – the decision to charge and then ultimately ignominiously withdraw charges against Gordhan, Pillay and Magashula,” Fritz said in a statement.

She said the attempt to "reheat a long cold dish and serve it up to the public as evidence of wrongdoing" was on its own alarming.

She said the public protector released her report a mere two days after receiving responses from the implicated parties which made a mockery of the most basic tenets of justice.

Werksmans Attorneys' Bernard Hotz, speaking on behalf of Pillay, said in a statement their client emphatically disagreed with the findings made by the public protector.

“He believes that her findings are reviewable in as much as they are both factually and legally flawed. He intends to seek recourse in the courts. We are confident he will find justice there,” Hotz said.

On Tuesday this week Pillay responded in detail, in the form of a sworn affidavit, to a notice sent to him by the public protector setting out her intended findings.

“It is well documented that the issue of Pillay's pension payout has been the subject of several processes and investigations that have all found nothing untoward with it at all,” he said.

Gordhan has also indicated he will institute immediate review proceedings against the report and findings, including the proposed remedial action which was announced.

“Minister Gordhan takes issue with both the haste and the timing of the release of her report. The complaint involves complex considerations of pension fund laws in as far they relate to public servants. It is doubtful whether due consideration was given to Minister Gordhan’ submissions,” Gordhan's statement read.

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