Meet SARS acting head Mark Kingon: Here’s what Jacques Pauw wrote about him

Mark Kingon
Mark Kingon.

JOHANNESBURG — ‘Ding dong, Tom Moyane’s gone’. That might become a popular refrain across South Africa today as President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night dramatically suspended the SARS Commissioner. Moyane – who has faced serious allegations of maladministration – was coming under increasing pressure to quit. Reports indicate that he was given the opportunity to resign on Sunday night by Ramaphosa. But Moyane, in his typical stubborn fashion, declined the opportunity and Ramaphosa was left with no choice but to sack him. Stepping into the breach is Mark Kingon, who is now the acting Commissioner. It was only last week that Kingon was appointed as Moyane’s deputy following the resignation of Jonas Makwakwa. We’ve done some research on Kingon and below is what we’ve found about him, both from his bio at SARS and from descriptions about him in Jacques Pauw’s ‘The President’s Keepers‘. – Gareth van Zyl

Short bio of Mark Kingon sourced from SARS:

Mr Kingon has been with SARS for close to 34 years. He was previously the Group Executive: Relationship Management within BAIT (Business and Individual Taxes). Mark is a respected senior executive who has risen through the ranks of the organisation, having worked in enforcement and in the legal department of SARS, amongst others. He is also widely respected within the broader professional tax community.

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Below are extracts from veteran journalist Jacques Pauw’s smash-hit book, ‘The President’s Keepers‘, which briefly mention Mark Kingon. There are two things that are clear from these extracts. Firstly, that Kingon appears to have knowledge of ex-President Jacob Zuma’s tax status and potential problems around that. Secondly, Kingon is described as being independent of political influence. These snippets are sourced from the ‘The President’s Keepers‘.

Once Jacob Zuma ascended to the highest office on 6 May 2009, one would have hoped that he had changed his ways and obeyed the laws of the land. He didn’t, and failed to submit a tax return for his first year in office. This was no exception. He didn’t submit a tax return for the second year, either. Or the third or the fourth. By 2011, the VIP Taxpayer Unit was again begging the president to get his tax affairs in order. At the time, this unit reported directly to Ivan Pillay, who was concerned that Zuma’s non-compliance would create a political fallout and cause people to pitch SARS against the president. He appointed Mark Kingon to handle this predicament. Kingon, Pillay and Ravele had meetings with both Hulley and Zuma – one was held in Durban – where the president’s onus to submit his returns was (yet again) explained to him. The majority of subsequent meetings appear to have been between Kingon and Hulley.

Source: Pauw, Jacques. The President’s Keepers: Those keeping Zuma in power and out of prison, Tafelberg.

The “J.G. Zuma” tax query from the Durban auditor at the regional office in Durban caused a minor consternation at head office in Pretoria. The auditor escalated the matter to SARS audit boss Jonas Makwakwa. He reported the matter to Oupa Magashula. I want to pause for a moment at Makwakwa. He became Tom Moyane’s number two after the departure of the “Gordhan Four” and has been described to me as an ambitious official who seized this opportunity to gain more influence and power. It was rumoured at SARS at the time that Makwakwa wanted to use the Royal Security/Zuma case to gain access to the president, and then somehow come to his “rescue”. Makwakwa had no struggle background and apparently considered this a hindrance to his career at SARS. This case was perfect for him to achieve his ambitions. Magashula reassigned the case, however, to Mark Kingon at the VIP Taxpayer Unit. This might have angered Makwakwa, because the next moment SARS received two media enquiries about the Royal Security payments to Zuma. The Presidency received similar enquiries and accused Magashula of undermining the president. SARS gave the usual “we do not discuss the affairs of taxpayers” and the allegations were never published.

Source: Pauw, Jacques. The President’s Keepers: Those keeping Zuma in power and out of prison. Tafelberg.

Throw the book. More of Zapiro’s brilliant work available at

Zuma was in deep trouble, because the officials that dealt with Zuma’s tax affairs – Oupa Magashula before he left SARS, Ivan Pillay, Mark Kingon, Gene Ravele and Johann van Loggerenberg – would have treated Zuma no differently from any other taxpayer. And the president was in complete agreement with this, wasn’t he? During the meeting between Pillay and Zuma in February 2014, the SARS acting commissioner apparently stressed to the president that he could not continue to drag his feet on the Nkandla tax issue and that unless he submitted his tax returns and declared the fringe benefit, SARS would have no choice but to advance the case to the next level.

Source: Pauw, Jacques. The President’s Keepers: Those keeping Zuma in power and out of prison. Tafelberg.