Pretoria 17 October 2012 – The attempted bribery and subsequent intimidation of a SARS official has resulted in a 15-year jail term for a Gauteng man this week.
On Monday, the Germiston Regional Court sentenced Mr Humphrey Ngundwe to 10 years jail on a charge of corruption, and 5 years on a charge of intimidation. The sentences are to run separately, which means he will serve 15 years in total. He is currently in custody, pending an appeal.
In 2008, Mr Ngundwe attempted to claim almost R400 000 in fraudulent VAT refunds. His claim was picked up during SARS’ standard VAT screening process, and SARS requested further supporting documentation from him. Mr Ngundwe then offered the SARS staff member a R20 000 bribe.
The attempt was reported to SARS Anti-Corruption and Security division, who, after engaging with the NPA, conducted a sting operation, and “accepted” the money he was offering. Mr Ngundwe was then arrested on a charge of corruption. After an initial court appearance, he was released on bail pending his case being heard.
However, immediately after his release, he began telephoning the SARS employee (who cannot be identified because of safety precautions) demanding his – fraudulent – refund as well as the “bribe” he had paid in the sting, and threatening to kill the staff member if they did not comply. As a result Mr Ngundwe was rearrested and a charge of intimidation added to the existing corruption charge. The SARS staffer was given physical protection for the remainder of the trial, and was moved to another office as a further precaution.
The staff member received a special SARS Commissioners Award in 2009 in recognition of their actions.
This sentence is a clear statement that SARS and the criminal justice system will not tolerate fraud or corruption, and that SARS takes the intimidation of its staff very seriously. All and any such attempts will be dealt with aggressively.