Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day

Suspended South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Tom Moyane now wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to either halt his disciplinary hearing or abandon the commission of inquiry into governance at the tax agency.

This was after retired Judge Robert Nugent dismissed Moyane’s request to halt the commission of inquiry into governance at SARS, describing the embattled commissioner’s submission to him as “disgraceful”, “loose with facts” and “littered with abuse, invective and sinister suggestions”.

Moyane’s attorney Eric Mabuza denies Moyane has adopted delaying tactics, saying Moyane is simply protecting his rights.

A permanent SARS commissioner can only be appointed once Moyane’s disciplinary hearing has been finalised, and it will be difficult to stabilise the institution until that process has been concluded.

Relief refused

On Monday, Nugent refused Moyane’s bid to have the separate commission of inquiry into governance at SARS halted as well as the suspended commissioner’s bid to remove Prof Michael Katz from the inquiry.

In a scathing ruling, Nugent refused all the relief sought by the suspended commissioner.

Moyane’s counsel Dali Mpofu asked the commission on Friday to halt the inquiry pending the outcome of the disciplinary process; to “expunge” all the evidence heard by the commission during its first sitting last week; to provide an undertaking that the commission will not hear evidence related to Moyane’s disciplinary process; and for SARS to provide legal assistance to Moyane when he appears before the commission.

Nugent said the commission had no power in law to “dissolve itself”, as it was established by the president.

Nugent said a ruling that asked the commission to ignore evidence before it was not possible and one that required the commission to ignore evidence was “not competent in law”.

The evidence heard by the commission last week painted a dismal picture of the running of SARS under Moyane, one which was dominated by a climate of fear, intimidation, harassment and bullying.

Nugent refused to give any undertaking to not receive evidence linked to Moyane’s disciplinary process and said the commission had no power to direct SARS to pay for Moyane’s legal assistance.

Mabuza said that he was now writing to Ramaphosa to ask that he either “disestablish” the commission of inquiry or the disciplinary process.

Further delays are already on the cards for the hearing.

On Friday, Moyane lodged a formal objection to the disciplinary process being conducted in writing and objected to former finance minister (now public enterprises minister) Pravin Gordhan compiling an affidavit against him.

Moyane was supposed to respond to the affidavit, which outlined the charges against him, by Monday. In addition, Moyane wants evidence to be led orally and not in writing as Ramaphosa has decided.

Azhar Bham, who is chairing the disciplinary hearing, is yet to provide dates on when the objection will be heard.

Ramaphosa has already refused Moyane’s request for oral evidence to be led.

Should Ramaphosa refuse to halt the disciplinary process or order that the commission of inquiry be abandoned, Mabuza said Moyane was ready to approach the courts. Mabuza said the “road is long” and the matter could even end up in the Constitutional Court.

He made it clear that Moyane was willing to fight it, saying that he had been employed for 24 years and could afford to take up the matter with the courts.

This is despite Moyane asking Ramaphosa to have the state foot his legal bills in the disciplinary hearing and asking the commission to compel SARS to provide legal representation to Moyane during the process.

The disciplinary charges against Moyane include his handling of a Financial Intelligence Centre report into suspicious and unusual transactions into the bank accounts of his then second in command, Jonas Makwakwa, who resigned from SARS under a cloud.