Sars has jumped the gun, says Khoza’s lawyer
The lawyer representing Irvin Khoza, the Orlando Pirates soccer boss, on Sunday accused the South African Revenue Service (Sars) of violating his client’s rights by divulging details of an agreement reached with him.
Khoza, who is the chairman of the Orlando Pirates soccer club, was arrested earlier this month for alleged possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition during a raid on his Diepkloof, Soweto home by Sars officials.
It has been reported that criminal charges were also being investigated by the police regarding alleged tax evasion amounting to R66-million.
In a statement released in Johannesburg, Erasmus said Sars was creating the impression that Khoza was guilty, even before the investigation into his tax matters have been completed.
“Our view is that before any fingers are pointed, the investigation will need to be completed.
“We are very disappointed, once again, in the Commissioner’s action in divulging full details of the agreement, which were confidential.”
Daniel Erasmus said they had to reach an agreement with Sars to get them to “back down from their aggressive and accusatory position and to prevent them from abusing their extensive powers in a routine tax investigation”.
Speaking on SABC’s Newsmaker programme on Sunday, Gordhan said the “gentleperson’s agreement” entered into with Khoza merely spelt out the procedures that would be followed during the investigation.
The agreement, which was a common practice in such cases, allowed the authorities to work in a more co-operative manner.
“It creates the right climate,” he said.
In terms of the agreement, Khoza would be expected to fully co-operate with the tax investigators’ probe, which should be completed within 90 days.
This was the first step in the process; the others being calculating his tax liability and then deciding on whether criminal procedures would follow.
Gordhan said the tax authorities had followed a lengthy process before approaching a judge to issue an order to search and seize.
As in usual cases, Sars would make numerous requests for information and if all attempts failed, the authorities would issue a permission for inquiry.
Regarding a claim by Khoza that he did not owe the taxman any money, Gordhan said: “If you owe me nothing, I don’t see any reason to be at your door.”
Erasmus also criticised Sars officials for calling in the police during the raid.
They had got no clear answer to their complaint about a leak of information to the police and the media, Erasmus said.
“We appreciate and respect the powers of Sars, but these should be used with consideration for the taxpayer’s rights and the preservation of secrecy.”
At a media conference in Pretoria on Saturday, police commissioner Jackie Selebi said Sars officials had alerted the police when they found a .303 rifle and ammunition in Khoza’s house.
Selebi denied that Sars officials were in breach of the confidentiality clause of the Income Tax Act when they alerted the police about the firearm and ammunition in Khoza’s house.
“Every citizen is obliged to report crime to the police.” – Sapa