The battle lines have been drawn as former SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay fights his “constructive dismissal” at the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
There was tension as counsels for Lackay and SARS made their opening submissions at the CCMA head offices in Johannesburg.
SARS’ legal team has brought an application to have documents relating to the “rogue unit” declared inadmissible.
Advocate Wisani Sibuyi said these were “irrelevant to the constructive dismissal case” before the CCMA.
But Lackay’s legal team says they are relevant and will argue their point after the application has been made.
Advocate Paul Pretorius‚ SC‚ said SARS had made Lackay’s employment “intolerable”‚ forcing him to resign on February 19 last year.
He was earning more than R1-million per annum.
Pretorius said in the period from November 7 2014 to the date when Lackay resigned‚ he was overlooked by senior SARS officials who took it upon themselves to communicate on matters about the alleged “rogue unit”.
“He was instructed to stay at home for the notice period (a month)… [His] employment was made intolerable by withholding information about SARS. [This is] information which formed part of his job [as a spokesman who had to manage media and respond to enquiries]‚” Pretorius said.
He said Lackay’s job security was threatened when SARS advertised his post.
But Advocate Wisani Sibuyi for SARS said there was no evidence that the applicant could produce that would prove that he was constructively dismissed.
“There was nothing intolerable in the working space that could have necessitated the resignation of the applicant…
“The application should dismissed with punitive costs‚” he said‚ adding that resignation was not the last resort for Lackay.
He said SARS advertised two posts to “beef up” media relations in dealing with enquiries about the “rogue unit”.
Meanwhile‚ the hearing which was set to start at 9.30am was delayed by nearly two hours as counsels met in private and commissioner Joyce Nkopane trying to find a bigger venue to accommodate the legal teams‚ media and members of the public.
The alleged unit was established when now Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan was commissioner at the revenue services.
– TMG Digital/Sowetan