Zahara fined for skipping court appearance
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PRETORIA – The Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court has found popular singer and songwriter Bulelwa Mkutukana, known as Zahara, guilty of failing to appear in the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Gauteng regional spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said Mkutukana failed to appear in court on 19 April, and the court issued a warrant for her arrest.
“She then appeared in court on [Monday] June 7. The magistrate firstly heard evidence for failure to appear in court in April. Thereafter, the court proceeded with the case where she is charged in her personal capacity, as well as a representative of her company, Zahara Trading (Pty) Ltd,” Mjonondwane said.
“In this case she faces charges related to the non-submission of personal and company income-tax returns to the South African Revenue Service.”
State prosecutor, Nerissa Reddy from the Johannesburg Specialised Tax Unit argued that the singer's reasons for previously not appearing in court were “highly unreasonable”.
The court heard that “Mkutukana only appeared in court when the commercial crimes investigators, Warrant Officer Pillay and Constable Tumber” began to trace her whereabouts.
Reddy submitted that Mkutukana’s “celebrity status” did not exculpate her from facing justice.
"Justice should be meted out equally, as everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and should be treated as such,” Reddy said.
The National Prosecuting Authority said the magistrate found Mkutukana’s reasons for not appearing in court “unreasonable”.
The “Loliwe” hitmaker was found guilty, and fined R1,500 or three months imprisonment.
She was warned to appear in court at the next hearing on June 25.
“The matter was postponed for disclosure of the contents of the docket to her legal representative,” Mjonondwane said.
“Her bail conditions were that she must hand in her passport to the commercial crimes officers within 24 hours and to report to the Roodepoort police station twice weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between 8am and 6pm.”