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Media statement by SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter

Media statement by SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter

PRETORIA, Tuesday 19 May 2020 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has learnt with concern, that as of yesterday, 18 May 2020, 2 additional positive COVID-19 instances among staff have been reported. This brings the total number of infections to 7 since the beginning of the pandemic.

One of the COVID-19 positive employees is in the Free State, one in KwaZulu Natal, one in the North West and four the Western Cape. A colleague who had earlier recovered was also based in the Free State. A second employee is still in intensive care and remains on oxygen support. We continue to wish them all the best for a speedy recovery.

SARS Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter has personally been in touch with the affected employees to connect with them, enquire how they were and to extend his support. The Commissioner says: “It is important that during these challenging times, none of our employees feel that they are emotionally and spiritually separated from the larger SARS family, even as they are physically isolated to limit the spread of the virus to others”. He has further thanked the respective SARS leadership at the respective offices for their swift and appropriate action, as well as the SARS Wellness Team who continues to provide a sterling support service to the individuals and their families.

“Covid-19 is real, and its impact will inevitably infect many of us directly, but certainly affect all of us in one way or another.”

The management of the locations where our colleagues are stationed have implemented the necessary de-contamination measures where positive cases have been identified.

At one of the locations, namely Bellville, individuals who were in close contact with two COVID-19 positive colleagues have been traced and have been advised to seek medical advice, before returning for duty. Should they test positive, they will self-isolate or go into quarantine.

In addition, the SARS Bellville Campus will be temporarily closed to effect deep sanitization, and will re-open on Wednesday, 20 May 2020. We will continue to communicate with taxpayers to provide alternative ways of interacting with SARS in instances where we decide, as an abundance of caution, to close our offices. The safety of our employees and the public is paramount, and we want taxpayers to know that we are committed to the public health, occupational and social distancing measures as is required.

The work of SARS remain invaluable as Government needs all the resources to able to deal with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to ensuring tax collection, tax refund payments, and trade facilitation, SARS continue to administer the range of tax relief measures announced by Government to bring much needed relief to businesses in distress, to enable them to save jobs, and continue to operate in these challenging times.

“We are clear that the higher purpose of our work enables Government to employ frontline workers such as Community Health Workers, Nurses and Doctors, who put their lives in danger in order to combat the scourge of COVID-19. It also enables the purchase of additional equipment and supplies for testing, contact tracing, personal protection and medicines. Equally important, is Government’s support for poor households through social relief measures including financial support and food supplies to the most vulnerable”, Kieswetter emphasizes. “We therefore place enormous value on the work carried out by our employees during these challenging and unprecedented times. We are all learning to co-exist with the novel corona virus, and to establish a completely new sense of normality. I wish to extend my deepest appreciation to the thousands of SARS employees, who in doing their work, themselves face the virus head on”.

SARS wishes to assure the public as well as all its 12 500 employees that it will take every pre-caution to ensure our offices remain fully compliant with every measure required to lower the risk of infection. Where unfortunate instances of positive cases are detected, we will respond immediately to ensure affected employees follow the appropriate action, follow through with disciplined contact tracing to identify other individuals who may be at risk, and return our places of work to the necessary public health standards, as required.

We apologize where taxpayers may have been inconvenienced, and will work hard to restore our normal rhythm to be at your service.

We remind Taxpayers who need to interact with SARS, that as part of our Covid-19 response, we have worked extra hard to provide all our services on line. Only visit our offices when absolutely necessary, and by making an appointment on line or by telephone. Should taxpayers need to file a return or make a payment, they may do so from the safety of their home or office via our digital channels which include eFiling, the SARS MobiApp, e@syFile or call the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277.


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