Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

VAT fraudsters arrested after eight years on the run

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.

Two men have been rearrested after being on the run from the law for eight years.

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.

ALSO READ: ‘Bad guys’ went to war against Sars

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.

READ MORE: New Sars unit move not a punishment for the rich

“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.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

Read more on these topics

South African Revenue Service (SARS) vat

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits