Former Sars employee Johann Van Loggerenberg gave evidence at the Zondo commission on Thursday. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)
Former Sars employee Johann Van Loggerenberg gave evidence at the Zondo commission on Thursday. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA)

Zondo commission hears about illicit tobacco trade

By Ntombi Nkosi Time of article published Mar 26, 2021

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Johannesburg - The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has continued to hear shocking revelations about the corruption involving the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

In his testimony, former Sars employee Johann Van Loggerenberg told the commission on Thursday about Project Honey Badger launched in 2013 to fight the illicit tobacco trade.

Evidence leader advocate Alistair Franklin asked Loggerenberg to clarify his  tobacco industry case study which he mentioned in one of his affidavits.

“The cigarettes industry, in particular, has always been a problem and the government has been losing a lot of money and legitimate business has suffered,” said Loggerenberg.

He explained that in the 2011/12 fiscal year, Sars collected R10.8 billion in excise duty.

“In the following year, it (excise duty) went up to R11.5 billion for the fiscal year 2013/14. In the fiscal year 2014/15, it went up to R13.1 billion.”

He also said there was a 15% year-on-year increase in excise flow of money coming into Sars. “It was an upwards growth,” said Loggerenberg.

Van Loggerenberg further maintained that he had been employed by Sars from November 1998 until his resignation in February 2015.

He also highlighted that he was assigned to the Special Investigations division and that together with three other officials, he was tasked to build a manual case selection, tracking and monitoring systems as part of a small unit and to conduct research on the so-called tax gap.

According to Van Loggerenberg, in 2000, as part of the modernisation of Sars, he was tasked by senior management to start an experimental unit known as the Sars Special Compliance Unit (SCU)".

The unit, he said, went on to make a marked impact against organised crime from tax.

Early in the day, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo addressed Tuesday’s incident at the commission in which advocate Dali Mpofu SC told advocate Michelle le Roux to ‘shut up’ during the cross-examination of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Mpofu also told Gordhan to also ‘shut up’.

Zondo on Thursday made it clear that Mpofu disrespected him as the chairperson and the commission which was established by former president Jacob Zuma three years ago.

“There has been an overwhelming majority of people who have appeared before the Commission, who had shown respect to the commission and also shown respect to others who had a role to play before this commission. No one has a right to tell anyone to shut up,” said Zondo.

Franklin announced to Zondo that former Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane is ill and would be unable to testify as planned.

Zondo said the commission would arrange to have him back on another day.

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Political Bureau

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