Pretoria, 13 January 2015 – The South African Revenue Service takes note of the article, ‘Pillay fights back’, published in one of the Sunday Newspapers of the 11 January 2015. SARS would like to place on record its serious concern with what appears to be the ‘fighting’ of internal SARS matters through the media without following the proper processes that SARS has in place. This approach is wrought with problems, the most apparent being that the suspension process in question is still underway and subject to internal proceedings. Very worryingly, the response seen by some media had not been provided to SARS by Mr Pillay at the time of the published article.
SARS is mindful about the sensitivity and confidentiality of the process surrounding Mr Pillay and it is in the interest of all parties that the matter be dealt with fairly, honestly and swiftly. However, it is important to clarify some points raised in this Sunday newspaper article.
As indicated, we were perplexed to see what appeared to be excerpts from Mr Pillay’s official response to SARS appear in the media report. In fact, at Mr Pillay’s request, SARS has granted him an extension until 16 January 2015 to supply us with his formal response to his suspension notice (the initial deadline was 12 January 2015).
SARS remains disappointed and disturbed that certain media seemed to have received Mr Pillay’s ‘25 page response’ yet we had not. In addition, the organisation is concerned that the media is being used to fight internal disciplinary processes. We stand by our view that all SARS employees, regardless of rank or seniority, must face the disciplinary process like any other employee if required. If indeed Mr Pillay’s response was provided to the media without sharing it with us, then this has seriously dented the trust and relationship between SARS and him. SARS is seeking further legal guidance and thereby reserving its right to law
Moreover, SARS takes great exception to insinuations about a ‘clean-out’ of certain officials. These suggestions have no base and are simply untrue – it is irresponsible to make these sorts of claims. In fact, SARS is acutely aware of the gratitude that it owes officials (past and present) who helped transform SARS into the vital and efficient tool of democracy that it is today.
Furthermore, trust and integrity are cornerstones of SARS. We have a responsibility to the organisation, our employees and taxpayers to ensure that all processes are followed and are fair, regardless of the outcome. As such, we will not respond to media enquiries about employee matters while internal processes are underway. It is simply irresponsible and not conducive to good employee relations. Once our internal processes have been completed we will communicate the outcomes.
It is important to note that SARS is entrusted with a crucial mandate. The work we do in driving compliance and collecting revenue is inextricably linked to the capacity of the state to serve its citizens and to the success of our young democracy. In the midst of the current scenario, SARS has not lost sight of this mandate and commitment to the country. South Africans have our assurances that we remain single-minded in doing our bit to expedite our mandate.