For many years, gangster boss Al Capone ran the city of Chicago and the US local and federal authorities were unable to pin any rap on him – not extortion, not murder, not kidnapping.
Even the infamous “St Valentine’s Day Massacre”, where Capone’s men slaughtered seven members of a rival gang, couldn’t be linked to Capone.
In the end, though, the Feds got their man: they busted Capone for tax evasion, sending him to jail for 11 years in 1931. That has a particular resonance in modern day South Africa, with the news that the SA Revenue Service is investigating a number of prominent ANC officials for dodging tax on the bribes they were paid by Bosasa, the company run by the Watson brothers, which won fists full of government tenders.
Among those in the crosshairs of Sars are said to be Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, former South African Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni (head of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, an organisation also being probed); former prisons boss Linda Mti, ANC MP Vincent Smith, as well as newly sacked NPA prosecutors Nomgcobo Giba and Lawrence Mrwebi.
In Capone’s case, the outrageous nature of the St Valentine’s Day Massacre caused an outcry and calls for justice right across society. Yet, nothing happened until the tax laws were used as a weapon.
The ANC’s connected and corrupt cadres – according to the evidence before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, as well as multiple other inquiries and media reports – has caused outrage, and a few jobs have been lost as President Cyril Ramaphosa goes through the motions of being tough on graft… but no one is yet wearing prison orange.
Leaving aside that it is deeply wrong for someone to pay tax on illegal income, especially bribery using taxpayer money, perhaps Sars has the best idea of how to bust gangsters.