Businessman Gary van der Merwe. Photo: Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)
Businessman Gary van der Merwe. Photo: Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

Sars seeks to gag businessman

By Adri Senekal de Wet Time of article published Apr 29, 2019

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CAPE TOWN – The SA Revenue Service (Sars) has brought a vexatious litigant application in the Cape Town High Court with the intention of silencing Cape Town businessman Gary van der Merwe and put an end to his attempts to expose what he claims to be fraud and corruption by Sars, their lawyers and others linked to them.

Van der Merwe accuses a small group of Sars officials and lawyers of trying to gag him after he and his daughter began to fight back against Sars earlier this year in a fresh round of court proceedings.

In 2013 Sars made an application in the Cape Town High Court to preserve assets owned by Van der Merwe and his daughter Candice.

Sars proceeded to sue Van der Merwe and his daughter for R291 million in what they alleged to be outstanding tax.

Sars withdrew its claim against Candice van der Merwe after they received some R44m after Sars raised an additional tax assessment against her.

Candice, assisted by her businessman father, is in the process of fighting to get Sars to repay the R44m paid by Candice to Sars, which she says was made in terms of the “pay now, argue later” rule in March 2016. They are also claiming the interest on the R44m, which is presently approximately R16m.

The latest application from Sars, which was delivered last Thursday, threatens to deprive Van der Merwe of his right to access the courts, claim his damages and to hold Sars to account.

Van der Merwe and his daughter have also sued Sars for R1bn each in constitutional damages in summonses served on Sars at the beginning of 2019, claiming that Sars had violated the Constitution in pursuing them when they knew there was no case against either Van der Merwe or his daughter as far back as 2013.

Van der Merwe said that he was at the point of finally exposing the actions of the small group of Sars officials and their attorneys, MacRobert attorneys, whom he accuses of “Sars capture”, when they brought the application to declare him a vexatious litigant.

“These attorneys have charged tens of millions of rand in fees in a matter where neither my daughter nor I owe any money. They are still refusing to tell me just how much money has been spent on legal fees in these matters. Every cent has been spent needlessly.”

Given the fact that there was now a new commissioner for Sars, Van der Merwe said he was surprised by the application as he had thought that with a new commissioner there would be good prospects of resolving the matters out of court.

“I’m curious to know if the new commissioner is even aware of this application or if it is just an attorney driven process."

Van der Merwe said he intended to oppose the application and hold Sars to account for violating the secrecy provisions prohibiting them from disclosing confidential taxpayer information in court proceedings without his or his daughter's consent, which is a criminal offence.


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