Past Master of Tax
01 November 2009
Posted by: Author: TaxTalk
Past Master of Tax
There are many tax heroes, many of them unsung, who have played a role in the current tax system in the country.
Former Chief Justice of South Africa, Judge Michael Corbett passed away on 16 September 2007 at the age of 84.During an illustrious legal career he played a guiding role in the transformation of SARS when he chaired the advisory board to the minister of finance and the commissioner for SARS in 1997 to facilitate change at the Revenue Service.
In an announcement released by SARS at the time of his passing it was stated that Judge Corbett steered the work of the board, advised on the streamlining and alignment of organisational plans and the business focus of SARS, as well as the future shape and direction. He was able to do this with a wealth of experience behind him, having officially retired as chief justice of the country in 1996. At a time when the revenue authority was grappling with the challenges of transition, Judge Corbett contributed an approach of inclusive leadership, pioneering an important element of the organisational culture at SARS. During his time as chairperson, Judge Corbett displayed integrity and leadership that won over his fellow advisory board members.
The words "integrity” and "dignity” are used over and over again when the late Judge Corbett is mentioned. He was also commit ted to the fight for equal rights, and his stature was such that President FW de Klerk (after consulting Nelson Mandela) asked him to stay on as chief justice in1993, when he was due to retire, and then President Mandela asked him to stay on again until December 1996 to lead South Africa through its transition.He was awarded the Order of the Baobab (Gold Class) by President Mandela at a state banquet in December 1996.
Justice Corbett received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1982, and served on the Council of this institution for many years.
Michael Corbett started practice at the Cape Bar in1948, during which time he also lectured part-time at UCT before his appointment to the Bench in 1963.Dean of Law at UCT Professor Hugh Corder recalls that his elevation to the then highest court in the country, the Appellate Division in Bloemfontein, in 1974 was a swift one, which reflected the general respect with which his work as a judge was regarded.
He described Corbett as "a person of unswerving commitment to justice, of complete integrity and of quiet dignity in all he did, both on and off the Bench.Judge Corbett made abundantly clear his commitment to the rule of law and a Bill of Rights for South Africa in 1979 at a time when it was extremely unpopular, to say the least, to express such views".
In a tribute to Judge Corbett at the time of his death,President Thabo Mbeki said that he would be remembered for his life-long career in law and his leadership during the first two years of the country's democratic transition.Former President Nelson Mandela said Judge Corbett was "a man whose life was one dedicated to the passion of justice".
Source: By TaxTalk