News24 has reliably learnt that Kgabo Hlahla, the group executive of strategy and architecture, digital info and technology, who was in charge of systems, including e-filing and system refunds, was dismissed last month.
The reasons given for his dismissal was media reports regarding his dismissal from his past employment, non-disclosure and being employed by two government institutions at the same time. It was reported in April last year that the then newly appointed Hlahla had been dismissed from his previous job at the Limpopo Department of Health for misconduct.
In 2015, The Sowetan ran a story about two senior officials in the Limpopo Department of Health, who had been dismissed for misconduct.One of the officials was Hlahla, who was the department’s information technology officer. The department was one of five departments in the province placed under administration after financial mismanagement was uncovered, the newspaper reported. The Sowetan said it had discovered that Hlahla was “facing charges after he had authorised the purchase of computers meant for the emergency medical services”. The computers were found gathering dust in a storeroom at Polokwane Hospital, where they had remained unused. Hlahla was suspended during the investigations until his dismissal in 2015.
SARS said at the time that commissioner Tom Moyane “only learnt of the issues around Mr Hlahla at the SCOF [standing committee of finance] meeting on Tuesday, 28 March 2017”.
The revenue service said Moyane undertook to look into the matter and he instructed the SARS human capital and development division to “verify the matter, including the inspection of the documents relating to Mr Hlahla’s application, recruitment and declaration of interests amongst others”.
“The commissioner of SARS was only made aware of Mr Hlahla’s suspension and subsequent dismissal by his former employer, the Department of Health in Limpopo, on the 29 March 2017. It is important to note that his dismissal occurred whilst he was already at the employ of SARS,” SARS said. The revenue service said it had instituted a full investigation into the matter.
But in September, in response to an opinion piece in the Daily Maverick, the revenue service said that a preliminary investigation into Hlahla’s dismissal from his previous job in Limpopo “could not discover anything untoward or inappropriate”. “SARS has made it clear that the appointment of Mr Hlahla was done properly and as such, there was no reason to act against Mr Hlahla in any way. “It is important to note that as SARS, we are dictated to by the laws of this country to respect employees’ rights which includes Mr Hlahla’s.
But SARS insiders have told News24 that in September, last year, Hlahla was given notice of an intention to suspend him and he was asked to provide reasons why he shouldn’t be suspended. In December, without any fanfare, he was dismissed, they said. Hlahla said he would not comment when questioned about his dismissal.
SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela said that the revenue service was prohibited, by its HR policies and practices, from divulging or discussing details of internal processes and employee information.
“Disciplinary procedures against employees are confidential, and deemed an internal matter. Disciplinary procedures are managed accordingly. SARS is therefore not in a position to comment,” Memela said. DM