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Magashula clarifies resignation

Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula resigned after an investigation into alleged misconduct.

FILE: South African Revenue Services commissioner Oupa Magashula. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Former South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner Oupa Magashula has explained his reasons for resigning.

Magashula stepped down from his position on Friday after an investigation into alleged misconduct.

His resignation followed the release of a damning report that found he lied to a fact-finding inquiry headed by retired Constitutional Court judge Zak Yacoob.

The commission was set up after the City Press newspaper revealed the contents of a recorded phone call between Magashula and convicted drug dealer Panganathan Marimuthu.

The report found that Magashula placed the reputation and credibility of Sars at risk when he allegedly offered a 28-year-old Durban woman, who is a friend of Marimuthu, a job at Sars.

While there is no evidence that Magashula committed a crime, the incident placed the credibility and reputation of Sars on the line.

Magashula was speaking to TalkRadio 702's John Robbie on Monday morning.

He says he made a big error because he allowed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to issue an incorrect statement when the story broke.

"I think I made one big error and that was to allow the minister to issue a statement that wasn't factual. We pride ourselves in setting the highest standard of conduct at Sars. If people are going to lose faith in an institution as crucial as Sars then the whole aspiration as a nation will start to unravel."

Magashula says he offered to resign immediately when the minister implied to a certain extent that the trust relationship is finished.

"I thought to myself I can't defend myself and take this institution that I have put eight years of my life into through the mud."

WAS IT A SETUP?

When asked if it was setup, Magashula says he doesn't know and is frankly disinterested.

"I know deep down in my heart when I look in the mirror I have done nothing wrong."

He says the woman in question was never offered a job and never came for an interview.

"I receive over 300 emails a day and I had forgotten to disclose that I had received the mail. It wasn't a priority to me."

He says the woman's relationship with Marimuthu is distant.

"She joined the church and then Marimuthu joined later on."

He says he met Marimuthu in Durban in July 2010 at the invitation of Vivian Reddy who he has known since his days as HR Director at Sun International.

"I meet many different people in this job - the good, the bad and the ugly. I must admit I was a bit naïve you become polite and professional when you meet people. I realise you can't give them the impression that they know you so well that they have sway over you."

Magashule says Judge Yacoob didn't accept his version of events.

He was responding to Yacoob's assertions that he was much less frank than expected in the commission.

"What surprises me is I was the one who admitted to having the telephone call. When City Press came to us and said they have a recording, I was the first one to say that the conversation had taken place in the following setting. Why would I hide it?"

Magashula however says he respects the judge and the findings.

"I've disappointed the minister and the trust relationship is gone so it's best to walk away with my dignity intact."

Minister Gordhan has replaced Magashula with Deputy Sars Commissioner Ivan Pillay.

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