Johannesburg - Julius Malema is homeless, penniless and a pedestrian after all his cars, properties and valuables were taken this week to repay his tax debt.
It is believed Malema could lose even the cabbages he is currently farming in Limpopo – but it is doubtful this will help cover the massive R16 million he owes Sars.
This week Sars applied to the Pretoria High Court to have Malema sequestrated – in an apparent move to find out whether the former youth leader has any hidden assets.
Contrary to media reports that the revenue service has only applied to attach his properties, Sars secured a court order to attach Malema’s assets in December, which it executed this week.
Sars has confirmed that sheriffs pounced on his Polokwane and Sandton homes.
Spokesman Adrian Lackay confirmed that they had instructed the sheriffs to take all Malema’s movable and immovable assets, “and this happened in the past two weeks”.
“I can confirm that the Gauteng North High Court in December last year granted Sars an order to attach various assets, which include movable and immovable… properties.
“The attachment has happened, he did not oppose that,” Lackay said.
Sandton South sheriff Theo Siebert would not comment on whether or not his office had collected any of Malema’s valuables.
Malema declined to comment when he was called. “I am not going to talk about these things. Speak to my lawyer,” he said.
His lawyer, Nicqui Galaktiou, would not comment on the attachment of his client’s assets.
But The Sunday Independent understands that Malema’s cars – including a Mercedes Benz Viano – were taken away to be auctioned.
Other creditors, such as banks, will also have to be paid.
His other Mercedes Benz was sold to his businessman ally last year, and the Range Rover SUV – which belonged to a Limpopo businessman – seems to have been returned to the owner.
During a swoop on Friday last week and on Wednesday, the occupants of his Limpopo home were apparently evicted as Sars took possession of the property.
Household contents such as fridges, beds – and probably his treadmill – were taken away from the Limpopo house and another Sandown home, which he has been renting.
The Sunday Independent has reported that Malema was forced to let go of his two bodyguards because he could no longer afford them.
This week a woman from Malema’s grandmother’s neighbourhood of Seshego, north-west of Polokwane, said the former youth leader stayed with relatives.
“He comes around here often, but his cousin said he does not sleep at the grandmother’s house,” said the woman, who did not want to be named.
“But I don’t think anybody would stop him from coming back to his grandmother’s house,” she said.
This could not be verified independently.
On Friday night, Malema was seen at an exclusive house party in Sandton, where popular Nigerian artist D’Banj performed.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and ANC leader Tony Yengeni were also at the party.
Malema has not lived in his R3.6 million Sandton home – which has been attached – for at least a year after he demolished the house so that he could rebuild it.
Some of his possessions will be kept in storage until they can be sold, but the value of his assets are far below the R16m tax bill.
This is why Sars is seeking a sequestration order, partly to have the outspoken Malema declared insolvent and to have a trustee appointed to manage his insolvent estate.
Attorney Ludwig Diener said that a sequestration application could mean that Sars suspected Malema had hidden assets, and an insolvency inquiry could reveal any hidden wealth.
“It looks like Sars may have knowledge that he is disposing (of) or hiding assets,” he said.
“I think Sars has got a suspicion about something else and it will be a pretty serious suspicion,” he said.
Diener compared Malema’s situation to that of Dave King – the billionaire businessman accused of tax evasion – who has been battling Sars for several years.
King’s properties were also attached.
Insolvency lawyer Leonard Katz said that an insolvency inquiry could lead Sars to more assets.
“If Sars is successful a trustee will be appointed. His job will be to establish what (Malema’s) real liability is and establish if he has disposed of any assets…”
“You may find out that he has donated assets to another entity,” Katz said.
If Malema had made any donations and he is found to be insolvent, the recipient could be asked to repay the money – as happened with benefactors of mining mogul Brett Kebble.
According to Sars, Malema was “not forthright and honest relating to his financial affairs”, despite numerous opportunities provided to him.
Sars investigator Pieter Engelbrecht, in his affidavit that accompanied the application, said: “A trustee would be able to find the assets, where hidden, lift the corporate veil, where necessary, to collect monies and assets due to the insolvent estate and to generally find and preserve assets to the benefit of the body of creditors.”
Engelbrecht said that it became evident that Malema had benefited from assets owned by other people.
He said that Malema had not been honest with Sars because the value of his assets changed from R8.5m to R1.4m.
Engelbrecht also said that Malema’s explanations around his income “could not bear scrutiny”.
The sequestration process is likely to expose Malema’s hidden financial dealings, which could be used by the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority in their criminal case against him.
Malema is facing charges of money laundering and racketeering along with several influential Limpopo businesspeople.
He will be appearing in court on April 23.
Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko said he could not confirm or deny a link between the two cases and said the criminal investigation was still under way.
National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Bulelwa Makeke said the sequestration would have no impact on the criminal case.
The two were separate processes, said Makeke.
“It just affects the same person but it won’t impact the criminal case,” said Makeke.
Malema’s financiers – who are mostly footing his legal bills – could also be quizzed about their involvements in his finances.
Galaktiou said they were currently working on their papers after being instructed by Malema to oppose the sequestration application.
If the application is successful, a liquidator will be appointed and will take control of any remaining assets and investigate whether Malema has any hidden income. - The Sunday Independent