South Africa taxman, police biased: Buyanga lawyers

HARARE - Zimbabwean businessman Frank Buyanga is continuing with his battle to regain his R4 million Rolls Royce, as lawyers have accused the South African Revenue Services (Sars) of “bias, bad faith and wrongfully impounding” the car.

As the four-year saga rages on, the Auto Haus Car Hire and Tours (Private) Limited (Auto Haus) ride was auctioned in South Africa (SA) last week along other swanky vehicles owned by Czech billionaire Radovan Krejcir and slain strip-tease boss Lolly Jackson.

Through his lawyer Engelbertus Grove, Buyanga not only accused Sars of disregarding his ownership proof and pleas for the reason why the Rolls Ghost was forfeited in 2014, but queries the South African revenue collector’s locus standi in seizing the transit car.

“Despite its invitation in the letter of November 5, 2014, the applicant (Auto Haus) did not receive correspondence (approval or disapproval) of its submissions of November 14, 2014. Had there been correspondence, the applicant does not have same in its possession…,” he said in his founding affidavit opposing the sale of the vehicle.

“Apart from running into a brick wall, the respondent (Sars) did not provide the applicant with reasons, alternatively sufficient reasons why it refuses to accept the evidence presented to the respondent on ownership in the vehicle,” Grove said, adding a slew of documents from Deca Motors International Limited (Deca) and Ian Frank Properties’ agency role proved “prima facie ownership, as no evidence to the contrary was produced”.

“Despite the allegations of a so-called police investigation since 2010, no evidence was presented to counteract the evidence… regarding the applicant’s claim of ownership of the vehicle.”

While the high-value ride was originally taken by the South African Police Service (Saps) in 2010 on suspicion that it had been stolen in Durban, the car was finally forfeited in 2014 and leading to its auction by Sechaba Trust (Sechaba) last week.

The controversial Rolls-Royce Ghost parked next to Czech billionaire and alleged mafia boss Radovan Krejcir's pimped up Porsche Cayenne - both of which were auctioned by SARS.

But Buyanga and Auto Haus contend they had duly presented the documents required by the police at the time, and which included the bill of entry, import permit and proof of purchase from Deca.

In particular, the parties also said they submitted SAD500 form as proof the vehicle clearance for importation, an electronic release note issued by Sars and even its British registration certificates.

“The applicant is awaiting reasons for the refusal of the latest representations made to the respondent. All or any discrepancies that were contained in documentation — were to the knowledge of the applicant — explained to the respondent.

“To the applicant, it seems as if the respondent unilaterally ignored the complete evidence to date,” Grove said, adding if the South African taxman ignored them “such ignorance was irrational and unreasonable”.

By attesting to a letter that said “until such time as your interest in the vehicle has been clarified, the commissioner was under no obligation to allow you to inspect the vehicle”, and continuing with the disposal through a private Sechaba sale, Buyanga’s camp says Sars had shown its bias and bad faith in dealing with this matter.

“To ignore the presentations to date and persist with forfeiture, and the sale of the vehicle is disproportionate to the loss, and damage suffered by the applicant.

“The applicant has now, for about five years endeavoured to assist and attempted to clear the queries of the respondent,” the lawyers said.

“Despite the lapse of about five years, no one else in the world, claims ownership of the vehicle. The whole picture portrayed... in the earlier application that there was an investigation and that the car may have been stolen... is clearly without merit,” they said, adding “the only available evidence and ownership claim was that of the applicant”.

Having paid a full purchase price for the vehicle, Auto Haus had failed to earn any income on the asset for five years and “the respondent had effectively stolen income from the applicant with its refusal to accept the best (available evidence)”, they added.

“To invite the applicant on the one hand… and on the other proceed with the sale of the vehicle is not reasonable either and neither does it reflect fair process. The applicant only obtained knowledge of the sale on March 6, 2015, thereby realising that the respondent has by now closed the door on the matter…,” Grove said.

“The procedural fairness by the respondent is also disputed.

“The respondent unilaterally decided on the presentation of specified documents as so-called proof of ownership.

“In so deciding, the applicant ignored the proof that was presented as well as the fact that this represents the only claim.

“The approach is at best, arbitrary,” the hard-hitting affidavit said.

Furthermore, Buyanga’s corner says it intended “to dispute the respondent’s jurisdiction to deal with the vehicle as a further point to nullify” the respondent’s actions as the car “was never imported into SA, and at all material times destined for Zimbabwe”.

“By retaining the vehicle in SA and endeavouring to sell it here, furthermore deprives the Zimbabwean authorities of import duty that it stands to gain on the actual import of the vehicle into that country,” it said.

By seeking to auction the car via Sechaba’s website and informing the applicant on the 11th hour, the South African authorities had also shown serious bias.

Despite the odds, Buyanga is even prepared to compromise on Auto Haus paying any applicable duties, penalties or charges connected to the detention of the coveted marquee and sedan as well as any other conditions that Sars may deem necessary.

Comments (1)

The South African Revenue Services are a bunch of selective thieving crooks. Empowered cadres in the ANC are exempt from paying taxes, and are exempt from any fraud or criminal investigations. ANC “heroes” like Trevor Manuel, Pravin Gordham and Nhlanhla Nene are responsible for implementing the robbery and persecution of so-called taxpayers. 92% of the populace do not pay any tax. It is easy to guise who actually does pay tax for the corrupt ANC inner circle to plunder for themselves. The ANC is an even bigger criminal entity than is the mafia.

Adrean Lackay - 17 March 2015

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