University of Cape Town Professor Pierre de Vos says the intelligence report compiled by the office of the Inspector general confirming the existence of the so-called rogue unit has no legal standing.
De Vos who is also a political analyst says the report can never be used in any other legal form, this after the North Gauteng High court set aside the intelligence report which Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had hoped to use in support of her case against Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan in the ‘SARS Rogue Unit’ debacle.
Mkhwebane’s report detailed an investigation into the alleged covert nature of an investigation unit within SARS which has come to be known as the ‘SARS Rogue Unit’.
The 2014 document compiled by the office of the inspector general has now been rendered useless. Mkhwebane had sought to use the investigation to strengthen her 2019 report in which found that Gordhan had violated the Executive Members Ethics Act for allegedly setting up the unit during his tenure as SARS commissioner.
De Vos says, “That report is reviewed and set aside – which means that it is no longer a valid report. This was done with the consent of both parties which means that the inspector general basically conceded that if it would have gone to court, it would have been reviewed and set aside. So he basically threw in the towel in that matter.”
The ruling is widely seen as a blow to Mkhwebane’s case against Gordhan and a final chapter in the long standing probe of the ‘SARS Rogue Unit’.
De Vos says,”Well it’s another blow for people who believe in the narrative of the rogue unit because this was one of the most powerful findings that there was a so-call Rogue Unit, that it did bad things, that is now completely off the table.”
“So all that is now left is the Sikhakhane report, which no one has ever challenged, so we don’t know if it’s invalid and of course the Public Protector’s report which is being challenged,” added De Vos.
In 2019, a report to President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding an inquiry into governance at SARS retired Judge Robert Nugent said the so-called Rogue Unit was not unlawfully established. In 2015, the Sunday Times newspaper published a front-page apology to Gordhan for failing to give him the right of reply to a story implicating him in the so-called rogue unit.
Judgment: The test for interdicting the remedial action in a report of the Public Protector was the test set out in OUTA. This test was correctly applied by the High Court and therefore leave to appeal on the merits is dismissed. (1/2)
— Constitutional Court (@ConCourtSA) May 29, 2020
EFF accepts Constitutional Court ruling on appeal application
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) says it accepts and respects Friday’s judgment by the Constitutional Court that dismissed its application and that of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to appeal a High Court ruling over the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) so-called “rogue unit” case.
The EFF and Mkhwebane approached the court last year, to appeal an order by the Pretoria High Court which suspended the Public Protector’s remedial action against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan pending the judicial review of Mkhwebane’s report.
The Concourt, however, made a different finding when it came to the costs order meaning Mkhwebane doesn’t have to personally pay the legal cost as the High Court did not make a specific finding that she acted in bad faith required for a personal cost order.