The South African Revenue Service (SARS) seized gold coins weighing over 565 kilogrammes, personal jewellery, watches and cellphones during a raid at the home of the girlfriend of a Sandton-based business tycoon, it was reported on Monday.
British-born Zimbabwean businessman Frank Buyanga Sadiqi, 41, claims SARS have refused to meet him and his lawyers to discuss the seizure of the Kruger coins worth over R600 million (US$40 million), TimesLive reported, citing court documents.
In the court filing at the High Court in Pretoria, Buyanga charges: “SARS unlawfully, without justification and without my permission and against my protests seized from me and dispossessed me of gold (Kruger) coins that I had with me at the time… Conservatively estimated, the gold coins that were stolen from my possession are valued at over 600 million rand.”
The SARS forfeiture unit, armed with a court-issued warrant, raided Buyanga’s girlfriend Melinda Busi Dube in Hyde Park on October 26. Buyanga was present at the time.
Dube made a police report and later took the revenue collector to court. Buyanga has now approached the High Court to be joined in Dube’s suit because he claims the forfeited gold belongs to him.
“My involvement in the events of the day on which the illegal SARS raid took place and the fact that the raid was illegally perpetrated on me and the companies with which I am associated with render it essential that I be allowed to make common cause with her application,” he said in court papers.
Buyanga said the gold coins are part of trading stock for his African Medallion Group (AMG), a company founded in 2017. In its profile, the company claims to be “one of the most successful and trusted gold companies in the world.”
He also makes the extraordinary claim that companies with which he is associated have a turnover of “approximately 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of South Africa.”
The businessman, who made millions of dollars selling property in Zimbabwe, has had previous run-ins with SARS. In 2010, the revenue collector impounded his new Rolls Royce Ghost imported from the United Kingdom. SARS claimed that he failed to provide proof that the car was not stolen. The vehicle would in 2018 be auctioned and he bought it back through auction.
Because of his past run-in with SARS, he appealed to the court to mediate in the broken-down relationship.
“Leading up to this present dispute, I have been made aware that SARS intend to, and did, investigate the business affairs of the companies with which I am involved and myself personally,” he said in an affidavit before the High Court.
“Because I wanted to avoid a situation where SARS acts against me, to my prejudice, disruption and harm, I and my legal representatives have on no less than two occasions extended written invitations to the officials at SARS to meet with their investigators and to address and answer any questions they might have… in order to stave off any disruption and all harm caused by SARS’ unlawful conduct.”
He told the court SARS have rebuffed him, in the process “inconveniencing our everyday comings and goings as well as to cause us significant damages to the extent of millions of rand.”
He further claimed that when SARS officials raided his girlfriend’s house, they acted in an unprofessional manner. They allegedly inquired about the location of his luxury vehicles including a Bentley, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti after they saw car keys for some of the vehicles.
“During the illegal raid, SARS repeatedly questioned my decision to drive my BMW motor vehicle (which I generally drive everyday) and expressed severe disappointment to the fact that I was not using one of my luxury motor vehicles. It was clear to me that SARS would have dispossessed me of whatever luxury vehicle I would have used on that specific morning,” he said.
Buyanga, who is represented by William Wilcock Inc lawyers, is asking the High Court to compel SARS to respond within 10 working days providing details of the individuals who were involved in the raid.
“In respectful submission,” he argues, “there is no legal basis upon which SARS can claim not to be obliged to provide the information sought. The motivation for SARS to not take up my invitation to an open discourse is rooted in the fact that SARS in fact has no evidence or reasonable suspicion that I, AMG or any other company with which I am involved have transgressed any laws,” he added.
Buyanga claims the SARS actions against his companies are orchestrated by “unknown characters acting in the background and behind the scenes… to play out a strategy designed to drive out AMG and my other businesses from the South African marketplace and to destroy me as a lawful businessman and taxpayer.”
He maintains that his companies are legitimate enterprises which spent over R5 million distributing food parcels to the poor “to alleviate the consequences of the (coronavirus) national lockdown.”
He has businesses in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Liberia which stand to suffer because of an “intentional smear campaign being conducted via the offices of SARS to upset and denigrate the brand that I have built, that I am associated with through my companies.”
SARS is yet to respond to Buyanga’s court application.
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