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Luther Lebelo denies being part of purge of Sars staff

Lebelo, who has been described as suspended commissioner Tom Moyane’s hitman, took the stand on Thursday afternoon.

Senior Sars official Luther Lebelo at the Nugent commission of inquiry on 27 September 2018. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

PRETORIA - The Nugent commission has heard how legal advice stating that there was no case against former South African Revenue Service (Sars) official Ivan Pillay related to his involvement with the so-called rogue unit was ignored and he was charged nevertheless.

This was among the submission at the public hearings taking place in Pretoria on Thursday.

Sars employee relations group executive Luther Lebelo, who has been described as suspended commissioner Tom Moyane’s hitman, took the stand in the afternoon.

Lebelo says advocate Martin Brassey was appointed to investigate the allegations against Pillay.

“Brassey had a team that then re-interviewed all the people that were interviewed. They then came back and said ‘we’ve found prima facie evidence and we’ve even drafted the charges, here are the following charges’. We found that the evidence that they had was solid if I were to use the word.”

Judge Robert Nugent says he has spoken to Brassey about his findings.

“I’ve seen his opinions and I remember Mr Brassey leading up to that said ‘there’s not a strong enough case to go on with’."

Lebelo has stressed that he was not part of a purge of Sars staff.

LEBELO’S MEMORY GETS TESTED AT INQUIRY

Lebelo's memory has failed him at the Nugent commission where he's been presented with evidence which contradicts statements he had made earlier in the day.

Earlier on Thursday, Lebelo told the commission that a legal opinion by Brassey found that there was a strong case against Pillay in relation to the so-called rogue unit matter.

Evidence leader Advocate Carol Stenberg then read out Brassey’s legal opinion.

“He recommended that the so-called rogue unit charge be dropped?”

Lebelo responded: “I can’t remember seeing the memo, this is four years ago.”

He is expected to return on Friday.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)