Malema a "leper", facing bankruptcy in wake of R16m tax bill
JACQUES PAUW AND THANDUXOLO JIKA
Former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema faces bankruptcy in his battle with the SA Revenue Service as his friends and allies abandon him in droves.
Malema spoke this week of his troubles with the law and how he was now treated by a leper by those whom he had once counted on as friends and allies (see separate story).
M24i has learnt from two sources that Limpopo businessman Lesiba Gwangwa is fully co-operating with SARS and is “in talks” with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in their investigation and prosecution of Malema.
Gwangwa, however, denied having turned witness for the state.
Malema, Gwangwa and three other business associates are standing trial in Polokwane on multiple charges ranging from money laundering, to racketeering, to fraud and corruption relating to the awarding of tenders by the Limpopo provincial government.
Malema is accused of using his political clout to win public contracts through a complex pyramid of companies. At the centre of the charges against him is an infrastructure contract worth R52 million.
M24i revealed in September last year that SARS had obtained a court order for Malema to pay R16m in taxes and penalties.
Malema has now accepted liability for his tax bill, but, through his lawyers, has informed SARS that it was never his intention to evade tax.
However, Malema has offered to pay SARS less than R4 million in an attempt to settle his tax debt, City Press understands.
Malema said this week that his privacy as a taxpayer should be respected, but confirmed that he and SARS were “almost at the tail-end of concluding those outstanding issues”.
He said his dealings with SARS were at a “very sensitive stage”, but that they “were finding each other.”
He was convinced that they were going to settle the matter.
Although SARS has yet to inform Malema of their response to his offer, M24i understands that it has not been favourably received.
If it is rejected, he can then attempt to reach a “tax compromise” with SARS, which will allow him to pay off his debt in instalments.
A tax compromise, however, will require a full disclosure by Malema of all his assets and liabilities, particulars of all his income, detail of all connected persons and any other information that SARS requires.
If Malema cannot settle his tax debt, he will be sequestrated.
Malema insisted he had disclosed all his income. “There is no cent that comes from drugs or the underworld. I am an open book. There is nothing that the state doesn’t know about me.”
Gwangwa himself was at the centre of a SARS investigation for alleged unpaid taxes worth millions.
Gwangwa initially approached the High Court last year to set aside the tax inquiry into 18 of his companies – some in which Malema had a stake through his family trust – but later withdrew the application.
Gwangwa insisted that he had not turned state witness.
“Why would I even want to do that? I don’t know anything of such nature,” he said. “I don’t think that anybody (from the NPA) would even come to me to do that. If they’ve got a job to do then they must continue doing it.”
Malema said he trusted Gwangwa as a “brother partner and fellow accused”.
“I received the money from Gwangwa which is suppose to be the money that confirms that I am receiving a bribe after performing a duty of influencing a tender,” he said.
“But let’s show how he (Malema) influenced the tender so that in return he is given the money. I have never influenced any tender. People look at me and how I walk and conclude that I am very influential’,” he said.
SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackey says the service could not by law comment on the affairs of any taxpayer.