Celebrity Chef on SABC 3 Rustic Chaluka, chef Lusizo Mvula Henna (41), affectionately known as Chef Sizo has been given 10 years in jail for defrauding SARS of more than R5 million.

Chef Sizo cried uncontrollably as his sentence was being read out by Magistrate Phindi Keswa at the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court, sitting in Palm Ridge. The court found that Ched Sizo was the owner of Blaque Olive Chefs. He claimed undue VAT refunds totalling R 5.3m of which Sars paid out R3.1m. The court found that there were no trading activities in Blaque Olive’s bank accounts resembling these claims and that these claims were solely submitted to defraud Sars.

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The National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said after receiving the R3.1m in his bank account, Henna laundered the money in 14 days by transferring the proceeds of the scheme to relatives and friends.  “The NPA applauds the commitment of Adv Oosthuizen and the investigation team for their efforts in holding Henna accountable for stealing from the fiscus,” Mjonondwane said.

Henna laundered over R3 million within 14 days after SARS deposited the R5 million VAT refund into his business account. He then distributed to friends, family, and close associates, including his ex-wife, Selina Mpakiseng Sibeko money in 2019. He later gave R376 000 to Sibeko and another R430 000 later that month. He also transferred R500 000 from his business account to his one. He also sent money to other people, including his current wife, Busisiwe Mavuso (not the Business Leadership CEO), R10 000 and R40 000, and transferred R20 000 to his mother, Nontuthuzelo Henna. He also made payments to his bookkeeper, and his business partner, Siphiwo Selby Hadebe.

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The prosecutor, Marius Oosthuizen, said that only direct imprisonment would be appropriate as crimes against the fiscus have a detrimental impact on the government’s ability to render services. “These funds are meant for the public, and the impact goes beyond financial loss. South Africa has the highest rate of unemployment. Schools, hospitals, and clinics get to be negatively affected, including social grant recipients,” added Magistrate Phindi Keswa.

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