SOUTH African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Oupa Magashula has resigned following an investigation into allegations of impropriety against him, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced in Pretoria on Friday. His resignation is effective immediately.
Mr Magashula was not present when the announcement was made.
In March this year, Mr Gordhan appointed retired Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob to head up an inquiry into claims that Mr Magashula had offered a young woman a job at SARS without following procedure.
The finance minister said at the time that although an initial report had not shown any breach of process at SARS, he had thought it best to institute a thorough investigation.
On Friday, Mr Gordhan said Mr Magashula had placed SARS’s reputation at risk and had not been as frank with the investigative committee as he had been expected to be.
However, he added, the committee found no evidence that Mr Magashula had committed a crime. The SARS chief resigned after seeing the committee’s report.
Mr Gordhan said a person holding the post of tax commissioner needed a certain level of integrity and professionalism, but Mr Magashula’s conduct was found lacking in this regard.
Deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay will take over from Mr Magashula in an acting capacity, Mr Gordhan said.
Afrikaans Sunday paper Rapport reported on a secret recording of a conversation between Mr Magashula and a 28-year-old chartered accountant. Mr Magashula allegedly told the woman that he would pay her R1m to work for SARS because she deserved R1m at her age.
Rapport said the woman, only known as Nosipho, then worked for less than R400,000 at one of the big four accounting firms.
According to the newspaper report, the woman was a friend of Panganathan Marimuthu, a wealthy businessman convicted of drug dealing about 15 years ago. The man allegedly met Mr Magashula in a Durban restaurant two years before and passed the phone to Mr Magashula to speak to the woman.
It was also reported that Mr Marimuthu had been the target of a SARS investigation and when he obtained a copy of the discussion between Mr Magashula and the woman, he bragged that he was “untouchable” as he had “the SARS boss in his pocket”.
“It must be emphasised that the young chartered accountant did not supply SARS with her curriculum vitae, nor was she ever employed by SARS,” Mr Gordhan said in March.
With Ntsakisi Maswanganyi and Amanda Visser