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Wed Sep 28 03:47:33 CAT 2016

SARS man is jailed

KEVIN FLYNN | 23 September, 2016 09:41
SARS offices. File photo.
Image by: Reuben Goldberg

A SARS employee with sticky fingers has lost his job and been jailed for four years - all for a mere R50,873.

While four Cape Town taxpayers thought he was helping them with their income tax returns, Bernard Hendricks was helping himself to their tax refunds.

The 36-year-old Mitchells Plain father of two young children used a colleague's password to access their tax information and substituted his banking details for theirs.

The tax service agent even swapped the cellphone numbers of two of the callers for his own - while talking to them on the phone.

Knowing that refunds were due to them, all Hendricks had to do was wait for the money to be diverted into his account.

However, SARS noticed what was going on, fired Hendricks and began an investigation in 2011, which culminated in his conviction on four counts of fraud earlier this month.

He was sentenced yesterday in the Bellville Regional Court, where magistrate Nonkosi Saba said: "Our democracy cannot afford corrupt officials whose conduct undermines the integrity of government institutions with the intention to enrich themselves."

In these cases, "the court will not hesitate to impose sentences of direct imprisonment," she said.

Hendricks may be eligible for release on correctional supervision after serving one-sixth of his sentence.

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