Eastern Cape soccer boss sentenced to 5-year jail term
Eastern Cape prominent soccer administrator and businessman Sturu Pasiya is heading for jail after he was sentenced to a direct five-year prison term for tax crimes.
Pasiya, 61, was sentenced last week by the East London magistrate's court for his failure to pay tax amounting to more than R4m.
Eastern Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said the court convicted both Pasiya and his company, Save Our Souls Security Services, for failing to pay VAT, income tax, unemployment insurance fund and skills development levies to the receiver of revenue between 1998 and 2004.
“The long arm of the law caught up with Pasiya after more than 13 years. The matter was first entered on the East London magistrate's court roll in May 2006, before being transferred to the regional court,” said Tyali.
Pasiya told Dispatch on Tuesday that he had not been arrested yet. “I'm not behind bars but I will be able to talk to you tomorrow [Wednesday]. I can't talk now because I'm driving back to East London from Mthatha,” said Pasiya.
An application to freeze Pasiya’s assets was granted by the Makhanda high court in 2008.
Asked why it took so long to sentence Pasiya, Tyali said the delays were owed to a number of tactics employed by Pasiya, including changing his defence attorney seven times.
“He also defaulted in attending court on a number of occasions, necessitating the issuing of warrants of arrest,” he said.
He said Pasiya, who runs Bushbucks soccer academy, was charged alongside his two co-directors in their company, but because the defence team made representations to the director of public prosecutions, the state withdrew charges against the other directors, who were merely employees in the company with no powers of directorship.
“When the matter was set down for trial in 2010, the defence made constitutional challenges to the charges against Pasiya, questioning the exclusion of his co-directors even though evidence was clear that he is the one who signed the tax returns and was invited by Sars officials to make an arrangement to pay the outstanding taxes, to no avail,” said Tyali.
The trial eventually proceeded in 2013. “Pasiya pleaded not guilty. His defence said he did not intentionally fail to pay Sars.”
The court duly convicted Pasiya in November 2015, and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) applied for a confiscation order in terms of Section 18 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
“The defence subsequently requested that the question of sentence be held in abeyance pending the outcome of the application by AFU, in spite of the application to freeze Pasiya’s property having been granted by the Makhanda high court in 2008,” he said. “Pasiya changed legal representation again, and his new attorney challenged the correctness of the conviction on the merits of the case, but the court dismissed that.”
Tyali confirmed that the defence had applied for leave to appeal against the conviction and sentence and Pasiya was out on R10,000 bail pending the appeal but that they intended to oppose the application “on the basis that the appeal has no prospects of success”.