The Pretoria high court ordered the South African Revenue Service (Sars), the first respondent in the matter, to hand Zuma’s individual tax returns for the 2010 to 2018 financial years to the applicants, the Financial Mail and investigative journalism unit amaBhungane, within 10 days.
The two media houses went to court in May, arguing that when the tax compliance of a head of state is in question, they should be able to invoke their rights of access to information, and, if there is a statutory hindrance to this, they should be allowed to challenge its constitutionality.
The allegations of noncompliance that made disclosure imperative, they argued, included that Zuma never filed tax returns for the first seven of his nine years in office; that he owed millions in unpaid taxes for the benefits derived from the tax-funded improvements to his home in Nkandla; and that he received money from illicit sources, including the Gupta family and tobacco smugglers.
Advocate cordinator at amaBhungane centre for investigative journalism Cherese Thakur said the court’s ruling will allow thorough investigations to be made following the allegations levelled on Zuma.
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