I am a leper – Malema

2013-01-13 10:01

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Julius Malema says his friends have abandoned him and no one takes his calls

Former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema faces bankruptcy, while his friends and allies have abandoned him in droves.

Speaking exclusively to City Press this week from his farm outside Polokwane, in Limpopo, Malema said he was now treated as a leper by those whom he had once counted on as friends and allies.

“I have lost a lot of friends. I am one person who believes that those who leave you during difficult moments were never with you even before ...” he said, dressed in his trademark red designer shoes, vibrant shirt and cream Boss pants.

But Malema looked a different man from the beret-wearing militant he once was. He says he now grows cabbages, tomatoes and tends to his cattle.

“We’ve seen friends vacillating. We’ve seen friends bowing to the pressure of the enemy. We’ve seen friends speaking in tongues and some are even so ashamed to be seen with you in public because to them you look like you’ve got leprosy and some don’t even take your calls.

“If they do, they are very impatient,” said Malema.

City Press has learnt from two sources that Limpopo businessman Lesiba Gwangwa is fully cooperating with the SA Revenue Service (Sars) and is “in talks” with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) relating to their investigation and prosecution of Malema.

Gwangwa, however, denied having turned state witness against his friend and business partner.

Malema, Gwangwa and three other business associates are standing trial in Polokwane on multiple charges.

Malema is accused of using his political clout to win public contracts through a complex pyramid of firms.

He faces 51 charges, including racketeering, corruption and fraud.

At the centre of the charges against him is a project management contract worth R52 million awarded to On-Point Engineers.

City Press revealed in September last year that Sars had obtained a court order for Malema to pay R16 million in taxes and penalties.

Malema has now accepted liability for his tax bill, but, through his lawyers, has informed Sars it was never his intention to evade tax.

However, Malema has offered to pay Sars less than R4 million in an attempt to settle his tax debt, City Press understands.

Malema said this week his privacy as a taxpayer should be respected, but confirmed that he and Sars were “almost at the tail-end of concluding those outstanding issues”.

He said his dealings with Sars were at a “very sensitive stage” but that they “were finding each other”.

He was convinced they were going to settle the matter.

If it is rejected, he can attempt to reach a “tax compromise” with Sars, which will allow him to pay off his debt in instalments.

A tax compromise, however, will require a full disclosure by Malema of all his assets and liabilities, of all the particulars of his income, the details of all connected persons and any other information that Sars requires.

If Malema cannot settle his tax debt, he will be sequestrated.

Malema insisted he had disclosed all his income. “There is no cent that comes from drugs or the underworld. I am an open book. There is nothing that the state doesn’t know about me.”

Gwangwa himself was at the centre of a Sars investigation into alleged unpaid taxes worth millions.

Gwangwa initially approached the High Court last year to set aside the tax inquiry into 18 of his companies – some in which Malema had a stake through his family trust – but later withdrew the application.

Gwangwa insisted that he had not turned state witness.

“Why would I even want to do that? I don’t know anything of such (a) nature,” he said. “I don’t think anybody (from the NPA) would even come to me to do that. If they’ve got a job to do then they must continue doing it.”

Malema said he trusted Gwangwa as a “brother, partner and fellow accused”.

“I received the money from Gwangwa, which is supposed to be the money that confirms that I am receiving a bribe after performing a duty of influencing a tender,” he said.

“But let’s show how he (Malema) influenced the tender so that in return he is given the money. I have never influenced any tender. People look at me and how I walk and conclude that I am very influential,” Malema said.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay said, by law, he could not comment on the affairs of any taxpayer.


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