SARS postpones answering Steenhuisen's PAIA request on Ramaphosa's Phala Phala dollars

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Deaan Vivier
  • SARS extended the period in which it will inform DA leader John Steenhuisen whether it will accede to his request for its records on the Sudanese businessman who paid for President Cyril Ramaphosa's buffalo.
  • SARS informed Steenhuisen that it hadn't concluded "necessary consultations" on his request and postponed answering him by 30 days.
  • Ramaphosa told the Public Protector that a businessman, later identified as Hazim Mustafa, paid $580 000 for a buffalo from Phala Phala, which is the cash later stolen. 

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has postponed telling DA leader John Steenhuisen whether it will provide him with the declaration of US dollars by the Sudanese businessman who bought game from President Cyril Ramaphosa's Phala Phala farm.

SARS is extending the period to respond to the request by 30 days.

Steenhuisen lodged a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application, requesting the records on 7 December. On Friday he received a response from SARS' deputy information officer, Siyabonga Nkabinde.

"Kindly be advised that due to necessary consultations not yet concluded with various divisions within SARS, consideration of your request is not completed as contemplated in Section 25(1) of PAIA," reads the letter.

"For the aforesaid reason, SARS hereby in terms of Section 26(1) (c) of PAIA extends the period to respond to your request by a period not exceeding 30 (thirty) days."

Steenhuisen is further informed that he has 180 days to lodge an appeal if he is aggrieved by this decision.

PAIA requires the entity which has received a request for information to inform the person who has made the request within 30 days whether it is granted.

Adriaan Basson | Phala Phala - Our democracy shouldn't hinge on one man's heartbeat

However, the act allows the information officer to extend this period by another 30 days if certain conditions are met, which includes "consultation among divisions of the public body or with another public body is necessary or desirable to decide upon the request that cannot reasonably be completed within the original period".

Phala Phala became a burning issue in June after the former director-general at the State Security Agency and former commissioner of correctional services, Arthur Fraser, opened a kidnapping and money laundering case against Ramaphosa, Presidential Protection Unit head Major-General Wally Rhoode, and Crime Intelligence members for allegedly concealing a burglary at Ramaphosa's Phala Phala farm in February 2020.

According to Fraser's affidavit, Ramaphosa had at least $4 million in cash stashed in a couch at his game farm - and then played a part in a cover-up following an allegedly illegal investigation into the matter.

DA leader John Steenhuisen.

The Public Protector recently announced that it has concluded its investigation into Phala Phala, but the report has not yet been released as it is undergoing quality checks.

READ | Phala Phala: Mystery Sudanese businessman paid $580 000 to Ramaphosa's farmhand 45 days before theft

In his submission to the Public Protector, Ramaphosa revealed that the cash came from Sudanese businessman Hazim Mustafa, who paid $580 000 for a buffalo from Ramaphosa's farm. Customs regulations would have required Mustafa to declare the money when he arrived in South Africa.

An independent panel appointed by Parliament found that Ramaphosa had a prima facie case to answer to. On 13 December, three days before the ANC's national elective conference, the party voted down the report in the National Assembly, meaning Ramaphosa survived impeachment.

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