Johannesburg - A trust was launched on Wednesday to collect funds to settle EFF leader Julius Malema's R16m SA Revenue Service (Sars) bill.
"The main motivation for the establishment of this entity is to settle the alleged tax bill that Julius Malema was recently slapped with by... Sars," trust chairperson Mandisa Mashego said.
Mashego and four other trustees launched the trust, referred to as the JSM Trust, in Johannesburg.
The five trustees are all members of the Economic Freedom Fighters.
"Although we are EFF members, we are also independent individuals who have a right to participate in the activities of the country, " said Mashego.
The trust was formed in consultation with a team of professionals including qualified attorneys, accountants and tax practioners, who offered their services to the trust free of charge.
"This team... have [sic] been instrumental in providing trustees with the necessary direction and advice to ensure smooth management of all matters of the JSM Trust," said Mashego.
She said the trust was set up to protect Malema and other individuals who were abused by the state, as they believed the Sars bill was being used as a mechanism to keep Malema out of the political arena.
"We are of the firm view that the case brought against Mr Malema has absolutely nothing to do with the allegation of him owing Sars taxes," said Mashego.
"Instead, we are convinced that the real intention of these actions is to frustrate, silence and suspend the political activities of Malema, so that he is unable to claim his rightfully deserved place in participating in the political landscape of South Africa."
She said Sars first presented Malema with a bill of R4m in outstanding taxes, but that the amount escalated to R16m.
"Without any rational explanation or fair calculation... Sars went as far as escalating their intial bill from R4m to a whopping R16m," said Mashego.
The fund planned to collect the R16m by the end of April.
Mashego said the trust would run live from midnight on Wednesday.
"We will collect money from the millions of sympathetic, ordinary God-fearing people of South Africa," said Mashego.
Additional proceeds would go towards other citizens who might find themselves in very desperate situations.
These included people who faced difficulties in the areas such as education, housing, and health.
Mashego said Malema was not directly involved in the operations of the trust, but he gave the trust permission to use his name.
In February this year, Malema was provisionally sequestrated by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. According to court documents, Malema owed R16m plus interest after failing to submit tax returns between 2006 and 2010.
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