Two former South African Revenue Service (Sars) chiefs who were sacked “due to operational requirements” during Bain’s controversial restructuring of the tax authority have been reinstated.

Acting Johannesburg Labor Court judge Smanga Setene ruled the dismissal of Hope Mashila and Tsebeletso Seremane unfair. Mashila was a whistleblower and made a protected disclosure about Bain’s hiring to then Sars commissioner Tom Moyane.

Seten said Sars “deserves the greatest condemnation” for not settling the matter with the two women in light of the negative public opinion about Bain’s appointment and the fact that Bain has reimbursed the fees earned.

Because he was trying to “protect the unjust”, he ordered Sars to pay penalty costs. Seten said the case “captured the hardships experienced by two single mothers and senior executives during the infamous Sars restructuring”.

“Their main sin was that they questioned the integrity of the 2015 restructuring. They repeatedly requested information about the details of the posts… and refused to accept them,” he said.

This led to their dismissal. Mashila told the court in 2015 that she was the head of workplace wellness and earned R1.5 million a year. Bain “unveiled” the new structure at a meeting in August.

In October, she realized that her position had been phased out at the executive level and demoted. From April 2016 to August 2017, she earned her salary by being inactive – she turned on the computer and read newspapers.

Mashila then wrote what she called “Breaking the Silence” – a letter she emailed to then finance minister Malusi Gigaba and Yunus Karrim, chairman of the standing committee on finance. She copied it to Moyane.

It was a protected disclosure under the Protected Disclosures Act, which gives whistleblowers protection from dismissal. Shortly thereafter, she was fired and kicked out of the premises. Seremane was head of integrity and organizational culture, also earning R1.5 million a year.

READ ALSO: Sars drops tax residency for expats with goalpost shift

She said she realized that during the restructuring, “integrity is lacking and corruption issues are becoming widespread.” Her position was also demoted. She was also getting paid for doing nothing.

The judge said both women had suffered an injustice. He ordered them to be retrospectively reinstated as Sars employees from the date of their dismissal with full pay and to report for duty on 1 September.

This article was republished from GroundUp. Read the original article here

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