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Durban - Just over 100 cases of corruption involving officials from the SA Revenue Service (Sars) have been reported in the past year, including 20 in the past five months.
Speaking to the Daily News, spokesman Adrian Lackay said some of the cases involved officials working in teams and others who resigned before disciplinary action against them could be finalised.
“Around 35 of these cases have been finalised. Of these, eight were unfounded, two withdrawn, two referred to the SA Police Service and two to Sars Criminal Investigations.
“Eighteen cases were referred to internal prosecution after investigation,” said Lackay, adding that their actions had led to eight dismissals and seven resignations so far.
Most recently, a Sars customs official was criminally convicted after internal investigations over a customs bribe.
“Sars customs inspector Nkethu Molibeli had solicited a bribe from an importer for a consignment to be released.
“In May this year, Molibeli was sentenced to a fine of R50 000 or five years imprisonment after pleading guilty to charges of corruption. R20 000 of the fine was conditionally suspended for five years, and is currently paying R5 000 each month in settlement of the remaining balance,” said Lackay.
Allegations of corruption within Sars comes as the organisation battles with its public image amid controversy over its tax disputes with several high-profile figures, including Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader, Julius Malema, whose sequestration hearing is due to be heard in Pretoria later this month.
Malema, the former ANC Youth League leader, has accused Sars of having a political agenda against him in their pursuit of a R16m outstanding tax bill.
Lackay admitted that Sars was fighting a battle against disgruntled internal employees who sometimes turned to certain politicians and the media to discredit it.
“We have errant taxpayers who manage to use politicians and the media to drive their agenda as well as former Sars employees who have left the organisation in disgrace or as a result of disciplinary action.
“They then put together so-called ‘dossiers’ in attempts to discredit Sars. Typically these ‘dossiers’ would contain some facts, but then have all sorts of untruths interwoven therein.
“Sars has been subjected to attacks from various quarters. It seems that it has become practice among certain persons to attack the reputation of the institution to deflect attention from the real issues at hand, which often are their own tax disputes with Sars.
“Typical examples in the past can be traced to taxpayers who have stood accused of being non-compliant and chose to attack Sars via the media.
“In almost every single one of these cases, the taxpayers in question did not deal with the facts surrounding their non-compliance, but rather opted to deflect issues to that of Sars ‘targeting’ them or treating them differently from other taxpayers.
“It has been found in the past that taxpayers who opted to use this tactic did so knowing full well that Sars would be unable to correct whatever negative perceptions they may have created because of the confidentiality provisions in tax legislation.
“The new Tax Administration Act now affords Sars the ability to release information publically in instances where incorrect information is put in the public domain by a taxpayer,” said Lackay.