Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
31 Mar 2021
3:33 pm

VAT fraudsters arrested after eight years on the run

Molefe Seeletsa

The men had been on the run since 2013 after they failed to report to Correctional Services to begin their seven-year terms of imprisonment.

Picture: iStock/ CreativaImages

The suspects were arrested about 17 years ago for their involvement in a refund for a false VAT input claim to the value of R2.7 million.

The claim was reportedly submitted on behalf of Elandslaagte Mining in Klerksdorp.

“The claim was submitted for the purchase of mining equipment which never took place and the Sars [South African Revenue Service] officials were bribed to approve the refund,” Sars said in a statement on Wednesday, 31 March.

In July 2004, the two men, Rudi Willemse, a former Sars official and Hein Fourie, a financial advisor, were sentenced to three years imprisonment for corruption and to seven years imprisonment for fraud.

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It has been established that another suspect, Abraham van Wyk, who was also on the run, has since died .

According to Sars, seven suspects were initially arrested, including three Sars officials, with Willemse among them.

Their trial was separated after four of the accused pleaded guilty, while Willemse, Fourie and Van Wyk pleaded not guilty.

The three men were then convicted, with the Klerksdorp Magistrate’s Court ruling that the sentences run concurrently.

The suspects then applied for leave to appeal their convictions, which was granted.

The appeal process took several years to be finalised, but in 2011 the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria denied the appeal by the three fraudsters.

In 2013, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein also denied their appeal.

Sars said the men had been on the run since 2013 after they failed to report to Correctional Services to begin their seven-year terms of imprisonment.

“Since 2013 there were several unsuccessful attempts to trace Willemse, Fourie and Van Wyk,” Sars said.

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“This included having all three fraudsters circulated on the SAPS system. However, it was established that one of the fraudsters, Abraham van Wyk, had since passed away.

“Eventually, in March 2021, the two remaining fraudsters, Rudi Willemse and Hein Fourie, were traced by the Klerksdorp police tracing unit and arrested.

“Seventeen years after their sentencing and eight years on the run, Willemse and Fourie are now serving their seven-year prison terms at Correctional Services in Klerksdorp.”

Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter has since welcomed the arrest of the two men.

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