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SARS' Makwakwa on paid leave for 9 months as investigation stalls

Jun 21 2017 05:00
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town - Jonas Makwakwa, second-in-command at the South African Revenue Service (SARS), has been on paid leave for the past nine months following his suspension, while an investigation into suspicious payments into his bank account is still pending.

MPs of the standing committee on finance heard on Tuesday that SARS had received an "interim report" into the investigation, conducted by law firm Hogan Lovells.

READ: Moyane in the dark on SARS' Makwakwa probe 

SARS however was not ready to report back on the matter and Hlengani Mathebula, chief officer for communications, strategy and enforcement, told MPs an internal disciplinary process should be completed during the month of July. “We should be able to complete the process fairly soon.”

Yunus Carrim (ANC), committee chairperson, told SARS that the matter cannot carry on indefinitely. "Mr Makwakwa may be as innocent as Mother Theresa or Mahatma Ghandi, but we need the matter to be concluded."

He gave SARS a deadline of August to report back on Makwakwa.

Mathebula said the August deadline is feasible, but pointed out that SARS has no control over the section in the investigation that deals with criminal conduct, as that matter is in the hands of the Hawks. 

MPs differed, telling him nothing prevents SARS from asking the Hawks how the investigation is progressing.

Makwakwa was suspended in mid-September 2016 following reports that he allegedly made "unusual and suspicious" deposits totalling R1.2m into a number of bank accounts between 2010 and 2016.

READ: SARS seeks Makwakwa probe, appoints new execs 

In addition, more than R450 000 was allegedly deposited into his girlfriend, Kelly-Ann Elskie’s bank account.

Alf Lees from the Democratic Alliance (DA) told Fin24 by phone that it seems SARS is deliberately stalling the Makwakwa investigation.

"The question needs to be asked why they don’t want to make known the interim report on Makwakwa," he said, which according to SARS's written responses to the committee would have been completed by mid-June 2017. 

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