Inside SARS

Inside SARS "rogue" unit

The ANC faction wars continue in South Africa's intelligence and law enforcement services.

Confidential charge sheets drawn up by SARS in 2015 suggested that Ivan Pillay misled former Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel and that the unit was illegal from the start. These and other charges contained in the documents have never been the subject of a public hearing.

Last month the priority crimes litigation unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) finally brought criminal charges against the spymasters who ran the infamous and much-denied “rogue” unit that operated within the South African Revenue Services. Here Noseweek can reveal the story of the unit’s chequered history as portrayed in the original charge sheets that were to have been the basis of disciplinary hearings that the unit's alleged architects, Ivan Pillay and Johann van Loggerenberg faced in 2015.

These internal disciplinary charges were never tested because both former SARS Deputy Commissioner Pillay and investigations head Van Loggerenberg resigned rather than answer the battery of accusations against them.

SARS's Naughty List

SARS's Naughty List

Secret document reveals the billions owed in taxes and names the biggest defaulters.

Among the many confidential documents in the custody of the SA Revenue Services, one of the most sensitive is the Naughty List, which records the tax debts of its top defaulters. So for the interest of readers Noseweek is reproducing the list of the top miscreants as at July 2002. It’s a bit historic, agreed, and most of the amounts now seem derisory. But 16 years ago a million was a million and still enough to buy more than a packet of chips.

The List contains 292 names, with total debts amounting to R2.3 billion.

Whiz-kid conman from Mossel Bay

Whiz-kid conman from Mossel Bay

Slick suits, flashy cars and the promise of instant riches were all it took to separate gullible investors from their savings and pension funds.

Early last year Mossel Bay was abuzz with news of a fantastic new investment opportunity offering a massive return of 20% a month. All that investors had to do was buy a second-hand shipping container for R25,000 to receive a monthly rental of R5,000. In five short months the initial investment would have been paid off and from then on clear profit would come rolling in. Mining companies were eagerly hiring the containers, so it was said, for storage and office space.

Seasoned business people immediately dismissed the scheme as too good to be true, but other more trusting souls, easily seduced by a flashily charming young salesman and the prospect of a steady and seemingly secure income, bought into it – some purchasing several containers in one go, apparently convinced this was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Accidental MP

Accidental MP

At 28, Gwen Ngwenya hadn’t intended entering politics – just yet. She’d imagined herself  following some other career path first. But this year the Master’s graduate and former COO of the SA Institute of Race Relations was appointed the DA’s Head of Policy and took up a seat in Parliament.  Some see her as a future leader of the party.

On 27 February, the day Gwen Ngwenya was sworn in as a DA MP – simultaneously taking up the post of Head of Policy for the official opposition – the 28-year-old wrote on Facebook: “Going back to the DA was not even on my radar when the year began. Just goes to show how unpredictable life is.”

Having pinned her colours to the DA mast, Ngwenya is seen by some as a future leader of the party – and an astute one at that; it is rumoured she only accepted the Policy position on condition she was made a Member of Parliament.

Bureaucrats throw the book

Bureaucrats throw the book

Issues of race and exclusion are threatening Durban’s status as Africa’s only Unesco City of Literature as bureaucrats throw the book at committee over quotas.

Durban’s status as Africa’s only recognised Unesco City of Literature is in the balance as issues of race and exclusion have seen the project grind to a near halt.

It appears that political interests may be overriding literary considerations in a project that, until December 2017, was running at breakneck speed in order to celebrate the city’s newly acquired global status and to be represented at a key meeting in April in Iowa City in the US. That is of course until city bureaucrats took the reins and became more worried about quotas on a voluntary board than the nuts and bolts of the project. 

Update:  Mpisanes v taxman

Update: Mpisanes v taxman

Game goes into extra time. In a bid to stave off confiscation of their assets by SARS in lieu of a missing R203 million, notorious Durban tenderprenuers Sbu and Shauwn Mpisane are trying to have th ...

Update: Nelson Mandela Bay election

Update: Nelson Mandela Bay election

The truth behind how the ANC funded its 2016 local government election in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro is expected to be revealed in a report to be tabled before the Eastern Cape metro council this month.

This will be the culmination of a nearly two-year investigation (see nose216), that began shortly after the August 2016 local government elections in which the ANC lost control of the city to a DA-led coalition with Athol Trollip installed as mayor.

At the core of the investigation is the accusation that a company called Mohlaleng Media (Pty) Ltd.

Update: Investec's Joburg senior advocates found to have charged eight times too much

Update: Investec's Joburg senior advocates found to have charged eight times too much

Senior Joburg advocates found to have charged eight times too much.

Three senior advocates of the Johannesburg Bar who were hired by Investec to oppose a high court application brought by the minority shareholders of Randgold and Exploration Ltd, have suffered humiliation at the hands of the Taxing Master of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

This is the latest development in a seemingly endless legal war of attrition which began in March 2011, when the minority shareholders launched a case claiming damages from Investec – and Randgold itself – for allegedly deliberately failing to take appropriate action to recover losses they suffered when the late Brett Kebble stole all their shares in the company and sold them for his own and associates’ benefit.

Big sky. Big science

Big sky. Big science

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is one of the world’s biggest science projects and South Africa has a huge part in it. There have been spinoff projects like the MeerKAT radio telescope, that are putting South Africa on the world map in astronomy and science in general.

As a taxpayer you may find yourself asking why you should pay for a project that seems to have no immediate benefits, unlike perhaps urban infrastructure or feeding the hungry. The same question was asked of the American space programme that put a man on the moon, which I personally think is awesome in its own right, but it also gave us useful things like GPS and the memory foam in your takkies.

Down and Out

Down and Out

Not cricket. Literature and architecture

As I write this, Australia is still drowning in debate over its cricket cheats, which has eclipsed the conversation about minister Peter “the gibbering potato” Dutton’s offer to shelter white South African farmers. Commentator Ross Gittins’s wrap of the debate: “I can’t see why people are so shocked to discover our cricketers have been cheating. Surely that’s only to be expected in a nation that’s drifted so far from our earlier commitment to decency, mateship and the fair go… Lovely people, Australians. (And don’t imagine the rest of the world isn’t realising how unlovely we are.)”

Noseweek Exclusive Video - Sanctuary Lost

Noseweek Exclusive Video - Sanctuary Lost

Over time, South Africa’s progressive refugee system has descended into a state of crisis. In response, the government now plans to construct detention camps on its northern borders, and....

Breaking News 17 May 2018: Elite capture of land distribution alarming, says PLAAS

 Worrisome patterns of elite capture and the lack of public oversight and accountability in land distribution are concerning issues, says Professor Ruth Hall from the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS). 

She was one of the speakers at a Leader’s Angle event on Land Reform, alongside advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Landbank’s Dr Litha Magingxa and
 

How Nedbank lied, and lied, and lied

How Nedbank lied, and lied, and lied

Widow, 83, faces off bank in Jersey court. Ian Brakspear, a Durban-based futures trader, was a longstanding Nedbank client. He was a beneficiary of the JAM Brakspear Trust (JAMBOT), set up by his late ...
 
Inside SARS

Inside SARS "rogue" unit

The ANC faction wars continue in South Africa's intelligence and law enforcement services. Confidential charge sheets drawn up by SARS in 2015 suggested that Ivan Pillay misled former Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel and ...

SARS's Naughty List

SARS's Naughty List

Secret document reveals the billions owed in taxes and names the biggest defaulters. Among the many confidential documents in the custody of the SA Revenue Services, one of the most sensitive is the ...

Whiz-kid conman from Mossel Bay

Whiz-kid conman from Mossel Bay

Slick suits, flashy cars and the promise of instant riches were all it took to separate gullible investors from their savings and pension funds. Early last year Mossel Bay was abuzz with ...

Accidental MP

Accidental MP

At 28, Gwen Ngwenya hadn’t intended entering politics – just yet. She’d imagined herself  following some other career path first. But this year the Master’s graduate and former COO of the SA ...

Bureaucrats throw the book

Bureaucrats throw the book

Issues of race and exclusion are threatening Durban’s status as Africa’s only Unesco City of Literature as bureaucrats throw the book at committee over quotas. Durban’s status as Africa’s only recognised Unesco City of ...

Update:  Mpisanes v taxman

Update: Mpisanes v taxman

Game goes into extra time. In a bid to stave off confiscation of their assets by SARS in lieu of a missing R203 million, notorious Durban tenderprenuers Sbu and Shauwn Mpisane are trying to have their ...

Update: Nelson Mandela Bay election

Update: Nelson Mandela Bay election

The truth behind how the ANC funded its 2016 local government election in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro is expected to be revealed in a report to be tabled before the Eastern Cape ...

Update: Investec's Joburg senior advocates found to have charged eight times too much

Update: Investec's Joburg senior advocates found to have charged eight times too much

Senior Joburg advocates found to have charged eight times too much. Three senior advocates of the Johannesburg Bar who were hired by Investec to oppose a high court application brought by the minority shareholders ...

Big sky. Big science

Big sky. Big science

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is one of the world’s biggest science projects and South Africa has a huge part in it. There have been spinoff projects like the MeerKAT radio telescope, that ...

Down and Out

Down and Out

Not cricket. Literature and architecture As I write this, Australia is still drowning in debate over its cricket cheats, which has eclipsed the conversation about minister Peter “the gibbering potato” Dutton’s offer to ...

Noseweek Exclusive Video - Sanctuary Lost

Noseweek Exclusive Video - Sanctuary Lost

Over time, South Africa’s progressive refugee system has descended into a state of crisis. In response, the government now plans to construct detention camps on its northern borders, and.... ...