Adriaan Basson’s open letter to Sars boss Moyane – selective corruption

The problem when one jumps into the spotlight, is that the scrupulous investigation around them more often than not opens the skeleton cupboard. And while many of the accusations may be unfounded, the search light has still been switched on. Adriaan Basson, the editor of Netwerk 24, has opened these doors. The Sars wars between Pravin Gordhan and Tom Moyane has been well documented, with the ‘rogue case’ at the heart of the matter. Basson commends Moyane on how he’s driven this case, in the fight against corruption. But at the same time, this corruption drive opens the door to a case from a few years back. Basson mentions Bosasa, a more clear cut case of corruption, which ‘captured’ the department of correctional services. Moyane was commissioner of correctional services at the time, yet four years on, the scourge of corrupt dealings is still ongoing. Basson asks Moyane why. The answers may unearth some truths about why the battle for Sars leadership is so sacred. The story is well documented in the letter, which is republished thanks to Netwerk24. A great read. – Stuart Lowman

By Adriaan Basson*

Tom Moyane. Picture: SARS website
Tom Moyane. Picture: SARS website

Dear Commissioner Moyane,

I am glad to hear you are not just a man of words, but a man of action.

I believe you are the one who opened a case of corruption with the Hawks against your former colleagues at the South African Revenue Service (Sars) who operated what you call a “rogue unit”.

I will not prejudge the outcome of the Hawks’ probe; suffice it to say I really hope you have a solid case and that things were indeed as “roguish” as you claim they were. You have really ruffled some feathers with this!

If the case ever goes to court, you should seriously consider selling tickets for the day your counsel cross-examines Trevor Manuel and your nemesis Pravin Gordhan to boost the fiscus (this is a joke you can safely ignore).

Being a man of action who put a case number to government’s promises to fight corruption, I need to ask you a few questions. Because words, as you know, Commissioner, are empty shells if not acted upon.

Since you have shown leadership in taking the matter to the Hawks – even though legal experts say your understanding of what constitutes corruption is skewed – I would like you to shed some light on other corruption scandals you are well aware of.

Read also: Donwald Pressly on SARS: In the battle with Gordhan, Moyane must go

You may not recall this, but two years after being appointed commissioner of correctional services in 2010, I called you about a case I have been investigating for over ten years.

Does the name Bosasa ring a bell?

Allow me to refresh your memory: Bosasa is a group of companies that, in today’s language, “captured” the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). In just a few years, the department you formerly led effectively outsourced all its basic services (like catering and security) to Bosasa and its affiliates Sondolo IT and Phezulu Fencing.

To cut a long story short: the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigated these dodgy tenders and issued a scathing report, accusing your predecessor Linda Mti, senior DCS officials and Bosasa of having a corrupt relationship.

Pretty clear-cut bribery

If I may say so, Commissioner, these findings were not as intricate as the “rogue unit” case. This was pretty clear-cut bribery. Mti got a house, Bosasa got tenders. DCS officials got cars and rugby tickets, Bosasa got more tenders.

I’m told this is called classic “quid pro quo corruption”.

Despite the SIU report and evidence having been handed over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the police in 2009, we are yet to see any arrests or prosecutions flowing from this case.

Read also: Max du Preez: Why Zuma must risk everything to keep his pawn Moyane at SARS

Let’s fast forward to 2012: I called you after receiving a tip-off that Bosasa’s contract to provide food at South Africa’s major prisons was about to be extended yet again. This despite numerous media reports about the alleged corrupt relationship between the company and DCS officials, as confirmed by the SIU.

I wanted to know why you were about to further reward a company already found to have been corrupt by the SIU. I wanted to know why the DCS tolerated corruption.

You sounded perturbed and said it was an “unfortunate” perception. You said you would conduct feasibility studies to determine whether the DCS should insource catering services (like it did before) and fire Bosasa. You asked me for a copy of the SIU report your department was supposed to have had. I sent you a copy.

Four years on, I believe Bosasa is still serving meals to our prisoners. What happened, Commissioner Moyane?

Being the man of action you are, what did you do to ensure a company which had no scruples in bribing senior officials was prosecuted and blacklisted by the state? You will agree with me that the level of brazenness with which they went about was mind-blowing; even writing the tender documents for the very same tenders they were later awarded!

What did you do to “uncapture” the DCS from Bosasa, Commissioner Moyane?

And now there is the SA Fence & Gate case.

I read in the media this week that Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts had questioned the awarding of a R378m contract to this company on your watch.

I am told SA Fence & Gate was awarded a tender to do essentially the same work Bosasa had done a few years earlier. Is this true, Commissioner?

Read also: “Unfireable” Gordhan threatens to quit: If Moyane doesn’t leave SARS, I go

Is it also true, as claimed by National Treasury official Solly Tshitangano before Scopa this week, that only SA Fence and Gate’s tender met the requirements for the R378m security contract? I’m sure you would agree that this smells fishy.

Remember the previous time this happened at the DCS? Yes, in the Bosasa matter, according to the SIU. When tender documents were written to suit only one company. What did you do to stop the rot, Commissioner?

A simple Google search will take you to a Mail & Guardian article published in January 2009, which details how this was done. Do you remember which company participated in Bosasa’s underhanded scheme to write the tender document for a R487m fencing tender? SA Fence & Gate.

I will quote one paragraph for convenience: “On October 3 Agrizzi sent a longer version, headed ‘Fence Doc Final”, to the chief executives of Bekaert Bastion and SA Fence & Gate, Michael Rodenburg and Geoff Greyling respectively, under the subject line: ‘Fence Doc Final … Very Confidential …”. This contained the full bid conditions and specifications published by the department on October 14. Bekaert Bastion supplied cladding material and SA Fence & Gate was contracted to do part of the installation.”

What did you do about this during your tenure at the DCS, Commissioner? Did you remember that SA Fence & Gate was previously involved in writing tender documents for the department when the R378m security contract was awarded? What do you know about the owners of SA Fence & Gate, Commissioner Moyane?

I’m sure you will agree that South Africans should expect nothing less from our tax boss than to root out corruption wherever he goes. Bribery eats away millions of rands from taxes you and your colleagues collect with great effort.

Please provide us with answers to these questions, so that we can be assured you walk and talk on the road of zero tolerance.

  • Adriaan Basson is the editor of Netwerk24, a sister publication of Fin24, and author of Zuma Exposed. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who has received numerous prizes for journalistic excellence, including the Taco Kuiper and Mondi awards. In 2012, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year print award, for City Press’s exposés of Julius Malema’s financial affairs. Opinions expressed are his own.
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