Johannesburg - The South African Revenue Service (Sars) declined on Monday to comment on reports that several businessmen linked to suspended ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema
are to appear before a secret judicial inquiry for suspected tax evasion.
"The SA Revenue Service has consistently held the position that it does not and cannot comment publicly on the affairs of any taxpayer regardless of whether it is a business, a trust or individual taxpayer," spokesperson Adrian Lackay said.
"Taxpayer confidentiality is an obligation imposed on Sars by the Income Tax Act, amongst other pieces of legislation."
According to reports on Sunday, several of Malema's allies have been subpoenaed to appear before the inquiry. It was reportedly convened after some business people and government officials refused to cooperate with the taxman.
Malema has not been subpoenaed.
Lawyer Piet PJJ Marais, SC, will reportedly head the inquiry, a judicial body set up in terms of the Income Tax Act. The order to hold the inquiry was granted last month by the president of the high court in Pretoria, Judge Willem van der Merwe.
Limpopo businessmen linked to 19 companies, who were close to Malema, were summoned. These companies include SGL Engineering Projects, where Malema was a director, Gwama Properties and On-Point Engineers, which is co-owned by Malema's Ratanang family trust.
Lackay said taxpayer confidentiality applies whether or not a taxpayer is under investigation.
"Taxpayer confidentiality ends only when a matter is formally brought before a court of law, other than a tax court. It then becomes a matter for public record."