SARS denies Malema secret meeting

Julius Malema
Julius Malema

The SA Revenue Service has denied it had a “secret meeting” with Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema.

“Sars does not conduct secret meetings with any taxpayer,” spokesman Adrian Lackay said.

“Any taxpayer has the right to seek remedies from Sars when a tax dispute arises between the taxpayer and Sars, as well as the right to meet with Sars with suitably qualified legal or other representatives.”

Malema said in a statement on Sunday that he, his lawyer and accountant met with Sars officials when he was still president of the ANC Youth League.

“In this meeting, my personal tax matters were briefly discussed in the presence of all. My lawyer and accountant, together with Mr Van Loggerenberg [a Sars official] were then requested by the commissioner to excuse themselves from the meeting and an indication was given on their departure that Mr Van Loggerenberg will be helping us to resolve my issues.”

He said he remained behind with the Sars commissioner and his deputy.

“In this closed session between the three of us, the details of the ‘intelligence dossier’ were discussed, and in what looked like their defence I was told that [President] Jacob Zuma had a similar Sars problem and they helped him with it,” Malema alleged.

“…They both offered to help me with my tax matters because they have done it before with Mr Zuma and other comrades.

“[The then Sars deputy commissioner Ivan] Pillay added that they would do this also because both of them are comrades and that he in particular was from exile.”

Malema claimed to have an “intelligence dossier” which, in his view, proved Sars had a special unit focusing on him and other persons because of their association with and support for Zuma.

Lackey said Sars did not provide preferential treatment.

“Taxpayer behaviour determines what course of action Sars institutes,” he said.

“If the taxpayers needs assistance and is willing to comply with his or her obligations, Sars will provide assistance. If the taxpayer demonstrates no willingness to contest or rectify instances of non-compliance, Sars takes stronger punitive actions.”

He said the matter with Zuma had gone to court and Zuma’s tax affairs were regularised.

“This is all on public record.”

Sars said on Friday Malema had failed to “refrain from making false public statements about the state of his tax affairs and his engagements with Sars”.

As a result it invoked section 67(5) of the Tax Administration Act and revealed a history of Malema’s interaction with it. The act allows it to disclose taxpayer information that would otherwise be confidential.

According to Sars, Malema ultimately accepted that he owed it R16 million in tax. He did not offer to convert any of his assets to pay his tax debt and never asked for any form of payment arrangement.

Sars attached some of Malema’s properties to recoup the R16 million debt.

In May, his incomplete mansion in Sandton, Johannesburg, was sold on auction for R5.9 million.

His farm in Limpopo fetched R2.5 million at an auction in June. Several of his household goods were also auctioned off earlier this year. – Sapa