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Sars exec Luther Lebelo admits ignoring legal advice in charging Ivan Pillay

Luther Lebelo told the Nugent Commission of Inquiry on Thursday that he could not remember receiving the legal opinion but accepted its contents.

A screengrab of Sars executive Luther Lebelo giving testimony at the Nugent Commission of Inquiry on 27 September. Picture: YouTube

JOHANNESBURG - A South African Revenue Service (Sars) executive has conceded that he ignored legal advice and proceeded to charge former deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay with charges related to the so-called rogue unit, despite there being insufficient evidence to support the case.

Luther Lebelo told the Nugent Commission of Inquiry on Thursday that he could not remember receiving the legal opinion but accepted its contents.

Lebelo, who has been described as suspended Commissioner Tom Moyane’s hitman, further denied being part of a purge of Sars staff after Moyane was appointed.

Evidence leader Advocate Carol Steinberg explained to Lebelo what exactly Advocate Martin Brassey put in his legal opinion.

“According to this, Mr Brassey told you not to continue with the third charge, and you said ‘no, my instruction to you is to continue with all three’.”

While Lebelo claimed he could not remember this detail, he could not dispute it when questioned by Judge Robert Nugent.

“Can we accept that that happened as he recorded it at that time?”

Lebelo responded: “Yes, he did that, and I advised him to combine the charges.”

“Why did you tell him to proceed even though the documents were not satisfactory, the witnesses were not satisfactory, and the case was not strong?” Nugent asked Lebelo.

Lebelo is due back at the hearings on Friday.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)