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Durban woman convicted of tax fraud loses high court appeal bid

By Nompilo Kunene

Sharitha Hariram (57) was convicted of fraud and theft amounting to over R2.7 million.

Prison cell

The Durban High Court has dismissed the appeal by Sharitha Hariram (57) and confirmed the 10 years imprisonment that she was sentenced to in September 2020.

Hariram was convicted of fraud and theft amounting to over R2.7 million.

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KZN’s NPA spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said Hariram was granted special authority to represent racehorse owners who were not registered for VAT (Value Added Tax).

“This permitted her to register as a VAT vendor and submit a combined VAT return to the South African Revenue Service (Sars) on behalf of the racehorse owners under her registration.

During the VAT periods of October 2011 to August 2012 where she submitted to the SARS, she made fraudulent claims for VAT allegedly expended by these racehorse owners to the value of over R2 million. In addition, she did not pay two racehorse owners a sum of over R700 000 which was refunded by the SARS.

Ramkisson-Kara said Hariram was arrested after the Sars conducted an intensive investigation that detected the crimes.

“Investigations also revealed that a few racehorse owners mentioned by Hariram did not exist, while others did not incur the VAT expense as claimed by her.”

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Following her sentencing, the court granted Hariram leave to appeal. However, on Friday November 17, 2023, the appeal court dismissed her application and confirmed her original effective sentence of 10 years imprisonment. 

Senior State Advocate Selvan Govender represented the state in both the trial and appeal proceedings.

Ramkisson-Kara said the NPA welcomes the findings of the appeal court.

Offences of this nature hurt the country’s fiscus. The prejudice suffered by the SARS could have been used by the government to finance its social, infrastructural, and economic responsibilities.

“We trust that this sentence will have the necessary deterrent effect on like-minded people,” said Ramkisson-Kara.