Here's how to nail a Number One gangster

07 November 2017 - 06:56 By The Times Editorial
President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.
Image: Esa Alexander

Notorious Chicago gangster Alphonse Gabriel Capone was widely assumed to have been the brains behind the bloody 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, a plot to kill the head of the rival North Side Gang, Bugs Moran.

Capone's men rented an apartment across from a warehouse that served as Moran's headquarters. On February 14 that year, his men, dressed as police, "raided" the building, lined up seven men along a wall, and shot all of them dead.

Three years later, Al Capone was sentenced to 11 years in jail - but not for murder, or extortion, or any of the other charges he was being investigated for. Federal prosecutors worked for years to build a case against him, but could only pin him on tax evasion.

At least they got him, right? He ended up spending eight years behind bars.

Many South Africans dream of seeing their own President Jacob Zuma behind bars. Mzansi's ultimate political survivor has for years managed to evade prosecution despite a myriad of claims of bribery and corruption against him (the Schabir Shaik case was a lost opportunity). But now a new opportunity has arisen for those with the political will to prosecute him. And "those" might soon be in power.

Jacques Pauw estimates in his book The President's Keepers that Zuma, at the very least, owes the taxman R63-million, based on benefits that accrued due to the Nkandla upgrades in 2009.

Three years ago, Cyril Ramaphosa spoke about tax evasion charges against Julius Malema. "Tax evasion isn't only a crime against the state but also a crime against the people of our country," said Ramaphosa, who could be the new ANC leader before the end of the year. "It's a practice we want to discourage and root out of our politics."

In South Africa, tax evasion could land you five years in jail. We'll take that, won't we?