SARS worker, who claimed fraudulent refunds for family, gets 5 years in jail

A former South African Revenue Service (SARS) employee was sentenced to five years' imprisonment after being found guilty of 159 counts of fraud by the Cape Town Regional Court. 

In a statement, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Nosicela Precious Tapa Ntozini was also sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment on Friday for one count of failing to register as a tax practitioner. 

NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said that Ntozini was employed at SARS as a call centre agent. There she completed income tax returns on behalf of 38 taxpayers and claimed fraudulent refunds.

"She used relevant codes in claiming medical expenses and deductions in respect of retirement annuity funds contributions, which were never incurred by the taxpayers," said Ntabazalila.

"She, in this way manipulated the SARS system in order to generate the fraudulent refunds, which were paid directly to the 38 taxpayers."

According to the NPA, the taxpayers then paid Ntozini a percentage of the refunds they received. The payments to her were paid via the money market system.

Children to be left in care of 'safety parents'

Advocate Thozama Plaatjie-Mbodlana, who prosecuted the case, says SARS paid out a total of R399 134.39 to the 38 taxpayers. Ntozini received R109 660.00 as her benefit. 

The offences were committed over a period of two years and six months. 

"[The] accused was the employee of SARS and in a position of trust. She used her knowledge to manipulate the system and to claim fraudulent refunds for 38 taxpayers whom were mostly family members. She enriched herself with the fiscus money." 

Advocate Plaatjie-Mbodlana said the official's actions were motivated by greed.

Ntozini is also the primary care giver of her three minor children and indicated that she has no family to look after the children, the NPA said.  

"The State requested the social worker to look for safety parents for the children. Her children will be in the care of trained safety parents while she is serving her sentence," said Ntabazalila.

The NPA said Ntozini's sentence would send a strong message to other parents that even if they are a primary care giver, a term of imprisonment can be imposed as long as the State convinces the court that the children will not be left destitute.

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