22 November 2022 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is pleased to announce that it has settled the labour dispute with and reinstated two former employees, Ms Hope Mashilo and Ms Tshebeletso Seremane with effect 1 September 2022. This marks a further milestone in reversing and repairing the adverse effects of the capture of SARS and its journey to rebuilding public confidence and trust.
SARS acknowledges the harm caused to Ms Mashilo and Ms Seremane when in 2015, as a result of the infamous Bain and Co restructuring process, their positions in SARS were downgraded, they were dictated to accept positions which were not on the approved new structure, their repeated requests for information fell on deaf ears and when they refused to take up those positions, it led to their dismissal “due to operational requirements” in terms of s 189 of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (“the LRA”), as amended.
Commissioner Kieswetter said: “This is a complex matter and involves the interests of two former employees who were adversely affected by the actions of a SARS leadership intent on capturing SARS. In such a situation, not only were the former employees adversely affected by the erstwhile Commissioner of SARS but SARS too became a victim of capture.
As current Commissioner and Chief Executive of SARS, I have a fiduciary duty to safeguard the integrity of the institution, the moral and legal obligation to reverse the adverse effects of the capture of SARS. It remains imperative that the process we follow has integrity, allows for restorative justice and healing, as well as initiate and sustain SARS’s journey to rebuilding public confidence and trust.
In this particular matter, I had to balance carefully the interests of the affected individuals to bring them back to SARS with dignity, whilst at the same time, protect the institution and sustain what it stands for as a strategic national asset. In treading this fine line, some commentators read into my caution that I was defending Mr Moyane, the erstwhile Commissioner, thus reinforcing the effects of SARS capture. As I have often stated before, I am beholden to nobody. I defend the institution and not the individuals who captured it. SARS and I will continue to do so and execute the SARS mandate without fear, prejudice and bias.
Some have also alleged that in this matter I have been insensitive to the plight of women and single mothers. Throughout my working life, I have demonstrated unwavering commitment to manage with empathy and advance towards equality for both men and women in the workplace when it comes to equal treatment, equal social standing and equal voice. The two parties are no exception in this regard.”
SARS and the parties acknowledge the power of the Higher Purpose of SARS’s work to enable Government to build a capable State, to foster sustainable economic growth and social development that serves the wellbeing of all South Africans. It is this very sense of Higher Purpose that unites SARS and the parties to commit to reverse the capture of SARS. This solidarity brought SARS and the parties closer in good faith discussions to find a more equitable balance between their interest and the interest of SARS, the institution.
Commissioner Kieswetter has acknowledged that “SARS’s actions at the time had a devastating and profound impact on the lives of Ms Mashilo and Ms Seremane and their families. SARS deeply regrets the hurt, pain and suffering visited on them and their families. I sincerely hope that with the conclusion of this process, the affected individuals and their families may experience a sense of closure and continue their own journey to healing and restoration.
I thank the parties for their commitment to SARS and what SARS stands for. On behalf of SARS, I welcome Ms Mashilo and Ms Seremane back as employees of SARS at their earliest availability to resume their duties and to participate actively in rebuilding a smart, modern SARS with unquestionable integrity that is trusted and admired.
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