SARS to appeal ruling reinstating employees axed during Bain restructuring

The SA Revenue Service (SARS) will appeal against court ruling reinstating two executives who were fired during global consultancy Bain & Company’s controversial restructuring of the tax authority.

Johannesburg Labour Court acting Judge Smanga Sethene ruled on Monday that the dismissals of Hope Mashilo and Tshebeletso Seremane were unfair. Sethene found that Mashilo had been a whistleblower who spoke up about the hiring of Bain by then SARS commissioner Tom Moyane.

“After studying the judgement, SARS, on the advice of counsel, has opted to note an appeal against the above judgment,” the tax body said in a statement on Thursday.

“SARS believes that the court made a material error in arriving at its conclusion. In this regard, SARS believes that another court will come to a different conclusion given what is at issue.”

SARS said it was not commenting further on the matter. It remains unclear why the tax body was trying to stand-by a decision made during Moyane’s controversial tenure.

READ | Paid to read the paper: Court victory for SARS execs fired under Moyane

Mashilo and Seremane were fired after the restructuring left them in apparently redundant positions. Both were initially offered positions as “domain specialists”, without any information about what that job entailed. Mashilo emailed then finance minister Malusi Gigaba and Yunus Carrim, then chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, explaining what was happening after Bain was appointed, leading to her axing.

Sethene had lambasted SARS in the ruling for not dealing with the matter given the negative findings on the appointment of Bain and the fact that Bain had reimbursed the fees it earned.

Earlier in August the UK Cabinet office banned Bain from tendering for government contracts, saying it considered the consultancy guilty of “grave professional misconduct” in South Africa. This was done at the urging of Lord Peter Hain, a former UK Cabinet minister.

The first part of the State Capture Inquiry report, released in early January, found Bain’s South African branch colluded with former president Jacob Zuma and Moyane to “capture” the agency.

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