Trevor Manuel to testify in trial of former SARS officials accused of spying
Former finance minister Trevor Manuel has confirmed that the prosecution has subpoenaed him to testify in the trial of former South African Revenue Service (SARS) employees accused of spying on the Scorpions.
In a statement issued through his lawyers on Thursday‚ Manuel confirmed media speculation that he was one of the witnesses in the case against Ivan Pillay‚ Johann van Loggerenberg and Andries Janse van Rensburg.
The trio are charged with illegal interception of communications and corruption over the alleged installation of cameras at the offices of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA)‚ dubbed Project Sunday Evenings.
Manuel said: “I confirm that I had, indeed, provided the prosecution with a statement last year‚ under compunction of a subpoena issued in terms of Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The prosecutor indicated at the time that I am a witness‚ and that I am not regarded as a suspect.
“I confirm that if I am required to testify‚ I shall comply with my civic duty to do so. I am advised that as a potential state witness I should not comment on the merits of the charges against the accused‚ and in the circumstances I shall refrain from doing so. I am, in any event, not privy to the indictment.
“However‚ the fact that I am listed as one of the witnesses who may be called to testify for the prosecution should not‚ in the circumstances‚ be interpreted as an endorsement by me of the charges‚ or of the process adopted by the state in this matter.”
The SARS trio allegedly spied on the now defunct investigations unit‚ the Scorpions‚ and the prosecution’s offices in Silverton during the fraud trial of late former police commissioner Jackie Selebi in 2007.
It has been reported that former prosecutions head Menzi Simelane‚ former prosecutor Gerrie Nel and Manuel‚ among others‚ were on the list of possible state witnesses.
The three former SARS men appeared in Pretoria Magistrate’s Court this week. The allegations about the bugging of the prosecution’s offices emanated from a KPMG report, which the audit firm has since, in part, retracted.