Suspended ANC Youth League president Julius Malema owes the South African Revenue Service (Sars) more than R10-million, City Press reported on Sunday.
He had been sent a tax bill of more than R10-million, apparently related to the millions deposited into his Ratanang Family Trust.
“What? That’s not possible,” he told the paper via SMS when asked for comment. He replied again later saying his accountant said the amount owed was R120-million.
It was not clear how he arrived at R120-million, or whether he was joking, the newspaper reported.
His lawyer Nicqui Galaktiou sent an SMS shortly afterwards: “Disclosure of Mr Malema’s private affairs with Sars is a violation of his right to privacy.”
According to City Press the amount owed included penalties. Money owed is usually due to income not declared or not fully declared. According to the newspaper, three independent sources confirmed Malema’s tax troubles.
The Sunday Independent reported that several of Malema’s allies had been subpoenaed to appear before a secret judicial inquiry for suspected tax evasion.
The inquiry was reportedly convened after some business people and government officials refused to cooperate with the taxman. Malema, who has not been subpoenaed, told the newspaper he did not know anything about the inquiry.
Advocate Piet PJJ Marais SC would reportedly head the inquiry, a judicial body set up in terms of the Income Tax Act. The order to hold the inquiry was granted last month by president of the high court in Pretoria, judge Willem van der Merwe, the newspaper reported.
According to documents in the Sunday Independent‘s possession, Limpopo businessmen linked to 19 companies, who were close to Malema, had been summoned. These companies included SGL Engineering Projects, where Malema was a director, Gwama Properties, and On-Point Engineers, which was co-owned by Malema’s Ratanang family trust.
The Gwangwa Family Trust, linked to businessman and Malema’s associate Lesiba Gwangwa, would also be probed during the inquiry. Gwangwa’s lawyer Mpoyana Ledwaba told the newspaper the businessman had been subpoenaed.
“Our client has always cooperated with the … authorities in the past and there is no reason why he will not cooperate this time around,” Ledwaba told the newspaper.
Another businessman Thomas Rasethaba, younger brother of Sello Rasethaba, a close friend of Malema’s, had also been summoned. According to the report Rasethaba needed to explain why his name appeared in several companies linked to Gwangwa and others.
“I used to run a company that sold shell companies, and I suspect that I might not have been resigned as a director in some of the shell companies I sold,” Rasethaba told the newspaper.
“I intend checking all the records to ensure that I have been resigned.”
Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay could not immediately be reached for comment. However, he told the City Press he could not comment because taxpayers’ affairs were confidential.
According to another report by the Sunday Independent Malema was facing a financial crisis. Although not broke he was experiencing financial hardship. An unnamed source involved in Malema’s finances told the newspaper Malema had scaled down his lavish lifestyle.
“He has sold his Mercedes Benz and he is now very careful with [spending] money. He is not starving, but he is no longer Raditshelete [moneyman],” the source was quoted as saying. — Sapa