SA: Zimbabweans at centre of R100m fraud; leader’s wife tipped police angry over R90,000 girlfriend allowance

SA: Zimbabweans at centre of R100m fraud; leader’s wife tipped police angry over R90,000 girlfriend allowance

By Agencies

A R100 million VAT fraud syndicate has been exposed after the ringleader’s betrayed wife tipped off authorities upon finding out about an alleged R90,000 ‘girlfriend allowance’.

The generous ‘side-chick’ allowance was just one of the numerous expenses detailed in court documents as Jeremiah Dube, his wife Rebecca, and seven accomplices were found guilty of various charges, including corruption, forgery and money laundering in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

Moliehi Constance Ramone, the expensive girlfriend, has also been charged and convicted.

The group was charged with attempting to claim almost R1 billion in fraudulent VAT refunds from SARS, with only R100 million worth successfully refunded between 2009 and 2015. According to court documents, the group claimed to have imported diesel and stored it in Vopak Terminal Durban and Sasol Oil tanks, but that was not the case.

The syndicate tried to claim 14% VAT on the diesel, despite diesel being a zero-rated commodity, as well as claiming storage fees. SARS employee, KG Mashangoane, was in cahoots with the group, expedited their claims, and tipped them off to any possible investigations.

It was however the luxurious lifestyle of girlfriend Moliehi Constance Ramone, which included luxury trips and gifts, that turned out to be the weakest link in the thieving chain.

Dube and Ramone had been involved in an extramarital affair for nearly eight years, during which the couple “went on multiple international trips with Dube and enjoyed other benefits, such as a generous girlfriend allowance, often amounting to R90 000 a month, which exceeded her day job salary at Hollard Insurance until Dube bought a company for her in the name of Reyaiketla.”

An ‘anonymous tip-off’ believed to have come from Dube’s pissed-off wife, Rebecca, led SARS criminal investigation manager, Johannes Setshwane, to begin poking around in a declaration by Musiwa Trading CC, one of Dube’s companies. The company had deregistered for Pay As You Earn (PAYE). However, the entity claimed huge amounts of money to show that it was running a highly profitable business, despite having no employees. Setshwane smelled a rat and dug deeper.

“One can only assume that accused two (Rebecca) was triggered to report the matter to SARS as a result of the infidelity of accused one (Dube) and accused five (Ramone). Her vindictive actions in reporting the matter to SARS demonstrate that she was fully aware of the fraudulent and illegal activities of the syndicate she formed part of.”

“This was further confirmed when she even reported to the police about the intended premeditated escape of accused three, Mavudzi, who planned to flee… to Zimbabwe where he had already enrolled his children in schools.”

A meeting was scheduled with Dube and his supposed lawyer, Mavudzi, to discuss the deregistration of PAYE. Setshwane continued his probe despite their explanation until Mavudzi offered him a bribe, at which point Setshwane handed over the probe to Ansie Strydom, a colleague.

Strydom went on to discover more evidence of the group scamming SARS of millions of rand in VAT rebates.

Dube was arrested when he collected his renewed driving licence. Mavudzi was arrested at his house where he was found hiding in his bedroom closet. Dr Sello Athlone Rathete also described as a kingpin, was arrested at his house.

Dube chose to testify at the end of the State’s case after conducting his own defence, which amounted to claiming that he was a prosperous businessman with interests in the petroleum sector. His version was rejected by the court.

“Dube knew the bank records refuted his claims of being in the fuel industry and clearly proved that the only successful business he ran was defrauding SARS.”

And so another gang of thieves gets the book thrown at them thanks to a scorned wife and incorruptible SARS investigators.