The SA institute of Tax Professionals (Sait) on Friday welcomed the SA Revenue Service’s decision to suspend two of its senior officials.

“Sait supports commissioner Tom Moyane’s no-nonsense leadership,” chief executive Stiaan Klue said in a statement.

Moyane announced on Friday that Pillay and group executive of strategic planning and risk Peter Richers had been suspended.

This followed the appointment of the panel to investigate allegations reported on in the media about Sars’s special projects unit and its alleged illegal activities.

“I have… decided to suspend the following two senior executives pending a disciplinary process in terms of the Sars disciplinary code and procedure, and applicable labour laws including the Labour Relations Act,” Moyane said in a statement.

Klue said Sars could not expect people to abide by the tax laws if the revenue authority or its staff members “appears not to be playing according to the rules”.

“Sars is a critical pillar of democratic society and must be seen by the general public as law abiding in all respects.

“Today is a milestone for our young democracy – nobody is above the law, not even the taxman,” he said.

Sars has been at the centre of reports over the last few weeks about an allegedly rogue intelligence unit that was set up in 2007.

Previously, the Sunday Times reported allegations that the unit had been involved in setting up a brothel in Durban as a cover for officials working from home, had spied on a wide range of people, including taxi hitmen, druglords, cigarette and abalone smugglers, Sars officials and politicians, and that some Sars officials were infiltrated into the ANC as bodyguards.

In September, then head of tax and customs investigations — who allegedly headed the unit at one time — Johann van Loggenberg, was placed on special leave pending a probe into allegations of misconduct.

In November, Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay urged that the investigation into the matter be allowed to complete its work, before further discussion, while the City Press newspaper reported that Moyane had formally suspended Van Loggenberg.

The Sunday Times published what is said what an extract of his notice of suspension that said he had been suspended in order to “provide for full investigations into allegations against you of irregularities, misconduct and bringing the organisation’s name and reputation into disrespect”.

The newspaper reported that Van Loggenberg denied all allegations against him.