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Monday, 22 April 2024 20:18

Celebrity chef Lusizo Mvula Henna sentenced to 10 years in prison.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Image Instagram.

The Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court has sentenced celebrity chef Lusizo Mvula Henna to 10 years in prison for defrauding the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

Henna's case was heard in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Monday.

The state had charged Henna with a serious tax offence, for which a person may be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period exceeding two years without the option of a fine or to a fine exceeding the equivalent amount of a fine under the adjustment of fines Act 101 of 1991.

The court found that Henna, as owner of Blaque Olive Chefs, claimed undue VAT refunds totalling R 5.3 million from the South African Revenue Service.

Of that amount, R 3.1 million was paid to the 41-year-old by the revenue service.

The court found that the claims were submitted with the sole intention of defrauding Sars after it was found that there were no trading activities in Blaque Olive's bank accounts resembling these claims.

Henna was also sentenced to six years imprisonment on 14 counts of money laundering.

"After receiving R3.1 million in his bank account, Henna laundered the R3.1 million in 14 days by transferring the proceeds of the scheme to relatives, friends, and others related to him," said National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane.

Arguing in aggravation of sentence, the state submitted that only direct imprisonment would be appropriate as crimes against the fiscus harm the government's ability to render services.

"It was further submitted that dealing harshly with offenders of schemes like these would improve South Africa's grey listing status regarding financial crimes. He added that it was important for the justice system to send a message to looters of the fiscus that they would be treated harshly," said Mjonondwane.

The prosecuting authority has welcomed the sentence and applauded the officials involved in securing a successful conviction and sentence.