CO-OPERATIVE Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan, a former South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner, is among 30 people likely to be called to answer questions at the disciplinary hearing of suspended SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

Business Day understands that former SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula has also been sent a letter asking him to participate in the process.

The disciplinary hearings against Mr Pillay and SARS head of strategic planning and risk Peter Richer will be chaired by former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo.

Mr Gordhan was commissioner when a covert unit was set up.

It has been found to be "unlawful" by an advisory board headed by Judge Frank Kroon, who had endorsed the findings of a panel headed by Muzi Sikhakhane, which was the basis for the suspension of Mr Pillay and Mr Richer.

Mr Gordhan’s participation may finally shed light on the events that led to the creation of the unit. It is understood that he was not interviewed by the Sikhakhane panel or by the advisory board.

He is set to face questions on whether the creation of the unit violated the National Strategic Intelligence Act; the finding by Judge Kroon that the budget of the unit amounted to irregular spending; and on Mr Pillay’s employment on a contract basis.

Mr Gordhan’s spokesman, Dumisa Jele, could not be reached for comment. Mr Magashula on Monday said he had not yet received the communication from SARS, but he had changed his e-mail address.

Former SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay is also facing censure for a letter he wrote to Parliament about the unit. In a letter from SARS to Mr Lackay, it accuses him of violating his oath of secrecy, the Tax Administration Act and Customs and Excise Act. The letter demands that he retract his comments and apologise publicly to SARS or face criminal and civil proceedings. The deadline for the apology was on Monday.

Mr Lackay declined to comment on Monday. In his letter to Parliament he raised concerns over the fact that SARS sought to muzzle those who did not agree that the contentious unit was illegal.

SARS spokesman Luther Lebelo confirmed it had sent a letter to Mr Lackay. He declined to comment on who would be interviewed for the disciplinary process.

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