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Statement and public apology to current SARS employees who were adversely affected by actions taken by SARS and certain third parties during 2014 – 2018

Statement and public apology to current SARS employees who were adversely affected by actions taken by SARS and certain third parties during 2014 – 2018

11 November 2022 – Statement and public apology to current SARS employees who were adversely affected by actions taken by SARS and certain third parties during 2014 – 2018.

SARS is pleased to announce that it has completed the internal reparations process with a number of current employees who were adversely affected by events that unfolded during the capture of SARS between 2014 and 2018. This follows the apology to former employees earlier this week.

Commissioner Kieswetter, on behalf of SARS, tenders a heartfelt public apology to its current employees for the organisation’s actions and omissions that had such a devastating and profound impact on their lives. SARS deeply regrets the hurt, pain and suffering visited on them and their families as a result of certain actions implemented by SARS in this period.

The completion of the process gives effect to one of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance by SARS (Nugent Commission) which found that there had been a massive failure of integrity and governance at SARS under the tenure of the erstwhile SARS Commissioner, Mr Tom Moyane. The Nugent Commission in its final report recommended that SARS should consider reparations to current and former employees, not necessarily pecuniary in nature, who were negatively affected by actions taken by SARS as a consequence, amongst others, of the Sikhakhane and KPMG reports.

Upon his appointment in May 2019, Commissioner Kieswetter found the situation at SARS to be much worse than even reflected in the Nugent Commission report. He implemented a host of measures to stabilise the workforce, restore staff morale and re-establish trust in the organisation.

The measures implemented included:

  • A pastoral and “listening” campaign aimed at giving staff an opportunity to share and reflect on their experiences.
  • The reinstatement of “supernumerary” employees in their previous or, alternatively, in meaningful roles and re-employment for some specialist employees who left SARS between 2014 and 2018.
  • A review of external and internal investigations, disciplinary and other employment-related actions that may have been unwarranted was carried out and all these matters have been closed.
  • Conducting a reparations process for current staff whose careers/positions at SARS were negatively affected and implementing a range of remedial measures, which included assistance with counselling where required, post- graduate study assistance, secondment to the Office of the State Attorney, payment of legal costs and medical expenses.

Commissioner Kieswetter, on behalf of SARS, said: “I acknowledge the significant damage caused to the organisation and the deep hurt to our current employees. I sincerely hope that with the conclusion of this procedure, the affected individuals and their families may experience a sense of closure and continue their own journey to healing and restoration. I thank each one of them for their commitment to SARS and what SARS stands for. I commend their resilience for remaining in SARS under very difficult circumstances and contributing to rebuilding a smart, modern SARS with unquestionable integrity that is trusted and admired.

To the extent that some current employees were adversely affected by the Sikhakhane and KPMG investigations, SARS recognises that both the Sikhakhane and KPMG investigations and the ensuing findings and recommendations were deeply flawed and SARS has since made it clear and reiterates once again that it will not use them for any purpose. SARS recognises that these reports should not have been used as a basis for any of the actions taken against some SARS officials.”

“My further message  to our employees”, says Commissioner Kieswetter: “Many of you are still young enough to experience a meaningful contribution at SARS, and I want to encourage you as we  put these negative experience behind us, you retain your positive engagement. I wish you a rewarding time during the rest of your tenure.”

SARS has also tendered a private apology to each of its affected employees and their families for the ordeal they endured, and the harm caused to them between 2014 to 2018 and a considerable period thereafter.

For more information, contact [email protected]

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