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Sars probes Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s income tax affairs – report

According to a report, the public protector had until 19 February 2020 to submit all relevant material related to the investigation.

FILE: Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane delivering her findings against President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is reportedly facing a South African Revenue Service (Sars) investigation into her income tax affairs dating back to 2011.

Mkhwebane has apparently been ordered by Sars to hand over copies of “all relevant material including financial information, employment income, foreign income, business income, expenses, deductions, and other income” as part of the investigation, the Sunday Independent reported.

According to the publication, in a letter addressed to Mkhwebane, Sars demanded bank statements for all local and foreign accounts related to her income tax affairs. The letter was reportedly co-signed by the tax collection agency’s executive for investigative audits, Charles Makola, and its senior manager for investigative audits, Matimba Macebele.

Mkhwebane had until 19 February 2020 to also submit copies of a statement of assets and liabilities, payslips, a fixed assets register, and employment contracts – among other relevant material – to Sars for the period under audit.

Sars reportedly reminded Mkhwebane that in terms of Section 46 of the Tax Administration Act No 28 of 2011, it could “request relevant material from any person who maintains or keeps such material” in respect of the taxpayer, including financial institutions and insurance companies.” Sars also warned her that it’s a criminal offence to deliberately withhold the documents without just cause.

However, Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe on Saturday told _Sunday Independent _the public protector believed that Sars’ investigation was an indication she was being “lynched” as part of “concerted efforts to instil fear in her” due to some of her high-profile probes in 2019 involving politicians.

But, Segalwe said Mkhwebane would co-operate with the Sars investigation because she had “absolutely nothing to hide”.

PROCEEDINGS TO REMOVE PUBLIC PROTECTOR

Last week, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise approved a motion by the Democratic Alliance (DA) asking Parliament to initiate proceedings to remove Mkhwebane from office. The request was made by the party’s chief whip Natasha Mazzone.

In December, Mazzone wrote to the speaker to request that removal proceedings against Mkhwebane be instituted following Parliament’s adoption of a set of rules for the removal of a head of a Chapter 9 institution in terms of the Constitution.

The DA’s draft substantive motion for the removal of the public protector would be considered in terms of these new rules.

Mkhwebane’s office came under scrutiny last year with increasing calls for her to step down. She was accused of playing politics as several judges questioned her credibility, competence, and understanding of her constitutional duties.

Some even went further, ruling that she lied under oath, acted in bad faith, showed bias, was dishonest and lacked understanding of her constitutional duties.

Additional reporting by Babalo Ndenze and Clement Manyathela.

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