Sun. May 19th, 2024

In a significant legal development, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg handed down sentences to a group of eight individuals on Monday for their involvement in defrauding the South African Revenue Service (Sars) of a staggering R100 million.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the group operated a VAT syndicate between 2009 and 2015, fraudulently claiming Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds from Sars. The syndicate, spearheaded by four ringleaders including two Zimbabwean nationals, Jeremiah Musiwacho Dube and Maxwell Ndlovu Mavudzi, allegedly utilized entities registered under their names and those of their co-accused to submit false VAT returns.

Gauteng NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane explained that the syndicate falsely claimed VAT expenses related to diesel imports and purchases from local suppliers, alleging transactions with companies such as Vopak Limited, Sasol Oil, Engen, Imperial Bulk Services, FPS, and Unitrans. Despite submitting claims totaling R200 million, only R100 million was paid out by Sars before their arrest in 2015.

The syndicate’s activities were brought to light after Dube’s wife anonymously reported the illegal operations to Sars. Her decision to come forward was reportedly motivated by revelations of her husband’s extramarital affair with Moliehi Constance Ramone, who lived a lavish lifestyle allegedly funded by Dube.

Following investigations, Mavudzi and Dube attempted to bribe a senior Sars official with R150,000 to ensure the payment of a false claim. Despite their efforts to evade justice through legal maneuvers, their appeals were dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court.

Adam Phiri and Daniel Khanyile, former co-accused turned state witnesses, assisted in tracking down other members of the syndicate. However, one accused, Christopher Dube, remains at large after absconding while on bail extension.

In the sentencing, Dube received 65 years imprisonment while his wife, Rebecca Dube, was sentenced to 25 years. Mavudzi also received a 65-year sentence, while Ramone was sentenced to 10 years. The remaining co-accused, including Sello Rathete, Edward Shoniwa, Audrey Radebe, and Bongani Mbonani, received sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

The conclusion of this case highlights the significant penalties imposed for financial crimes and underscores the importance of vigilant oversight to safeguard against fraudulent activities.

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