Moyane in the dark on SARS' Makwakwa probe

Cape Town – Eight months after Jonas Makwakwa, the South African Revenue Service’s second in command, was suspended amid investigations regarding financial transactions into his bank account, there are still no indication as to how the matter is progressing. 

SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane told members of Parliament on Tuesday that he still hasn’t been updated on the investigation, which is conducted by international law firm Hogan Lovells. 

In addition, there is an internal SARS process under way and the matter is also being investigated by the Hawks, Moyane said.

READ: Hawks told Moyane not to report Makwakwa as probe had started 

Moyane and his executive team briefed Parliament’s standing committee on finance on the revenue service’s strategic and annual performance plans. 

The SARS boss was also asked to give progress on the Makwakwa matter. 

The Sunday Times reported in September last year that Makwakwa had been singled out for cash payments into his bank account that appeared "suspicious and unusual".

The investigations also focused on three cash deposits, totalling R450 200, to Makwakwa's girlfriend's Absa account just before Christmas 2015.

According to the report, compiled by the banking regulator, Makwakwa received a total of R1.2m in cash payments between 2010 and January 2016. 

A complex matter

Moyane started his update on Makwakwa, saying it is a “very complex matter”.

 “I don’t want this albatross around my neck. An investigation of this nature by the police and Financial Intelligence Centre cannot be pushed. I’d like to see it closed as soon as possible. Like any other investigation it has its own timeframes,” Moyane said. 

He added that he is also not in a position to intervene in the investigation by Hogan Lovells. “They have their own processes.” 

READ: SARS seek Makwakwa probe, appoint new execs 

Floyd Shivambu, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP responded saying he is certain that Moyane is allowed to ask the law firm about how the Makwakwa investigation is progressing. 

“I thought the legal firm was contracted by SARS. I’m sure you can ask them how they’re progressing? It’s not an open-ended process,” Shivambu said. 

Fluffy answers

Committee chairperson Yunus Carrim (ANC) concurred and said the standing committee can’t keep on getting “fluffy” answers on the matter.

 “We don’t expect you to instruct the Hawks (about the investigation). But Hogan Lovells was appointed by yourselves. It’s reasonable to say to them: ‘Settle this matter within three to six months, because it impacts on how much you pay (for their services). 

SARS resignations

Earlier during the briefing, SARS was asked to explain the high number of senior people leaving the revenue service. 

Alf Lees from the Democratic Alliance (DA) asked SARS to elaborate on the resignations of senior officials including one official who withdrew his resignation after SARS persuaded him to stay on. 

Hlengani Mathebula, chief officer for communications, strategy and enforcement responded, saying he was not comfortable naming individuals. 

“But we need to be frank with you,” Mathebula said. “People resign in organisations. As an employer we have a responsibility to persuade them not to leave.”

However, if employees want to leave the organisation because they have received better offers somewhere else they can’t be stopped, he added. 

Carrim agreed with Mathebula that he wasn’t sure that individuals’ names should be mentioned in the briefing, but told Moyane that he needs to pay attention to the resignations at SARS. 

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