WATCH LIVE: Mabuza refuses to comment on Sars high-risk unit's legality

Deputy President David Mabuza was answering oral questions from Members of Parliament in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon.

Deputy President David Mabuza responds to Questions for Oral Reply in the National Assembly, Parliament. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy President David Mabuza said the South African Revenue Service (Sars)’s so-called rogue unit matter is before the courts and he can’t respond on its legality.

Mabuza was responding to questions from Members of Parliament in the National Assembly on Thursday.

It was Mabuza’s first question and answer session in the first quarter of the new term of Parliament and he was facing questions on unemployment and intelligence gathering.

The deputy president said because the Sars “rogue unit” matter was currently before the courts, he couldn’t express an opinion on the matter.

He was responding to a supplementary question from the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Mbuyiseni Ndlozi who asked whether the establishment of the unit was legal.

“As to determine its legality it would be premature to start talking about the matter before court. It will be premature or wrong for us to start talking about a matter that is before the courts. Let us allow the courts to finalise the matter without us talking about it and our views.”

However, Ndlozi said a precedent on the sub judice rule had been set previously and he pleaded with Mabuza to answer the question.

“The matter of sub judice was clarified, but we can [talk about it] because there is no court that can suspend [it] because of the separation of powers your government being held accountable under activities under your watch.”

Speaker Thandi Modise ruled that Mabuza had adequately answered the question, which prompted the DA's John Steenhuisen to request a review of her decision.

He said: “The sub judice rule does no longer apply in South African law… what we can’t do is discuss the merits of the case. May I ask that this ruling be referred to the rules committee urgently because otherwise ministers and the executive are going to hide behind this sub judice rule continuously.”

The unit was called the High-Risk Investigations Unit and was set up to investigate high-profile tax offenders but it allegedly carried out rogue operations.

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