The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has declined to prosecute a criminal case against a former chief officer at the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
This has further cemented a belief that there appears to be selective prosecution happening at the organisation, with those close to SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane appearing to get some level of protection while others have been targeted for investigation.
This contradiction has upset a number of SARS insiders who spoke to the press, saying the investigation processes have not been fair and they believe they were aimed at getting people not wanted by the current leadership to resign from the organisation.
They say there has been a pattern of intimidation, false charges, forcing people out, and wrongful dismissals at the organisation.
After nearly two years of being investigated by the Hawks, the former SARS chief officer in charge of Tax and Customs Enforcement, Gene Ravele, has had all charges against him dropped.
Ravele was one of SARS’ most senior employees.
He worked at the revenue service for 18 years under various roles until his resignation in May 2015, following the ructions after Moyane’s appointment as commissioner.
Before his resignation, SARS attempted to suspend him by bringing numerous internal charges against him.
The organisation, following an investigation by KPMG into the matter, was also the complainant in a criminal case of corruption against him where they alleged that he booked a weekend away at Sun City under a disguised name and unlawfully upgraded from the Cascades Hotel to The Palace.
SARS alleged that this trip was a R10 000 unauthorised gift made to him by a sequestered tax payer.
Ravele denied the allegations against him to the Hawks, saying he had been given a complimentary upgrade at the resort as part of a gambler royalty programme.
When put under the microscope by the NPA, the evidence in the case did not add up.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told the media that the reason the prosecutor declined to prosecute the case was that there was “a lack of sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of successful prosecution”.
“The allegations could not be supported by any concrete evidence,” Mfaku said.
At the time the charges were laid in early 2015 – at the height of the rogue unit allegations – SARS, it appears, was determined to lay charges against Ravele.
In an internal charge sheet seen by the press some of the charges SARS attempted to accuse him of were:
- Sanctioning or approving the conducting of unlawful covert and or clandestine intelligence gathering activity in SARS
- Negotiating the procurement of mobile phone tracking and monitoring equipment from a company recommended by former Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils,
- Negotiating the transfer of and accepted delivery of serious military surveillance equipment from the United States Customs Border Protection,
- That he unlawfully made use of other divisions cost centres for the unlawful acquisition of spy equipment which was later given to the HRIU,
- That he was involved in the unlawful acquisition of a small arsenal of arms and ammunition for SARS
- He committed fraud and corruption with his stay at Sun City.
All of the accusations were denied.