13 December, 2019 – A radical reform of the law is needed to ensure that crooks stealing billions of rand in taxes every year are sent to jail, Tax Justice South Africa (TJSA) warns today.
SA’s existing minimum sentencing rules, which say fraudsters should get 15 years like murderers and rapists, have been widely criticised and discredited. Judges have the power to impose lesser penalties if they see fit – opening the way for tax criminals to dodge prison completely.
TJSA is therefore calling for a system of mandatory sentencing with realistic jail
terms to guarantee that the big tax evaders are put behind bars.
“Tax criminals loot the state of vital revenue, rob children of their future and threaten the health and safety of our most vulnerable,” says TJSA founder and anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee.
“It is time for the punishment to fit the crime and that requires mandatory jail terms of at least seven years, which judges will impose because they are fair and necessary.
“That is why today we are announcing our #LockThemUp Charter for Tax Looters, which sets out the laws that SA needs to ensure these crooks are imprisoned and potential offenders are deterred.”
Tax dodgers are costing South Africa an estimated R100 million every day, stealing the taxes urgently needed to transform and rebuild our country.
“These criminals enrich themselves at the expense of the needy and act like they are above the law,” added Abramjee, who was this week named one of four Inspirational South Africans of 2019 by LotusFM.
“Last month the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a R1 billion penalty for tax fraud by Africa Cash & Carry. But despite the huge sums involved, there was no mention of anyone going to jail.
“Self-confessed tobacco smuggler Adrian Mazzotti is said to owe SARS more than R70 million, but he is free to live the high life, posing for photos with his powerful friends.
“We need to follow the money, catch the crooks, lock them up and make them repay what they’ve stolen.”
Under the #LockThemUp Charter for Tax Looters, TJSA will campaign for new laws that would ensure:
- Mandatory jail terms for the big tax cheats – in cases involving sums of more than R500 000, judges should impose a mandatory custodial sentence of at least seven years, in addition to a heavy fine.
- Life-time company directorship bans – big offenders should never be allowed to own and operate a business again. Current director delinquency orders are rarely accompanied by bans and are open to abuse.
- Immediate forfeiture of assets – investigators must find it easier to seize the luxury cars, yachts, homes and other ill-gotten gains of the worst looters.
“The illegal trade in alcohol, textiles, tobacco and pharmaceuticals is hugely lucrative for the criminals involved,” said Abramjee.
“The current sentencing rules are discredited and fines are no deterrent when you have siphoned your fortunes into overseas bank accounts. We need to send a statement and put these crooks behind bars to stop them bringing our country to its knees.”
Notes to Editor
The establishment of Tax Justice South Africa is a rallying cry to the people and to Government to take action against organised criminal gangs that are plundering South Africa.
Founded by Yusuf Abramjee, Tax Justice South Africa will campaign for a lawful and prosperous South Africa and for urgent action against criminals who steal billions in legally due taxes every year.
Every day approximately R100 million is looted from South Africa by criminal tax evaders, undermining the Government and the rule of law, and robbing its people of a brighter future.
Tax Justice South Africa will work to raise awareness of this national menace and show how these stolen funds could be used to build a better nation.
The campaign is supported by Makali Lepholisa, former Commissioner for Customs in Lesotho, and Andy Mashaile, Interpol Turn Back Crime Ambassador, who join Yusuf as the Directors of Tax Justice South Africa.
For media queries contact Yusuf Abramjee, firstname.lastname@example.org and +27 82 441 4203