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South Africa's gov't goes after late Zahara's property over tax evasion

Zahara passed away in December 2023 aged 36

The late South African Musician Bulelwa Mkutukana 'Zahara'
  • SARS is auctioning Zahara's prime properties to recover over R3 million in unpaid taxes
  • Zahara, the late singer and guitarist, faced financial controversies and legal battles related to tax evasion
  • The legal principle ensures that the state's tax revenue remains protected even after an individual's death

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is taking decisive action to recover over R3 million (approximately Sh22 million) in unpaid taxes by auctioning prime properties belonging to the late singer and guitarist Bulelwa Mkutukana, known by her stage name, Zahara.

The celebrated artist, renowned for her hit song 'Loliwe,' passed away on December 11, 2023, leaving behind a legacy marred by financial controversies.

Zahara's struggles with tax evasion were highly publicised, involving numerous court cases and convictions for contempt due to skipping court sessions.

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Despite her musical acclaim, these legal battles highlighted significant lapses in her financial obligations.

With her passing, SARS has now turned to her estate, seeking to recover the substantial tax debt she accrued over the years.

This move by SARS has ignited a debate across South Africa. Some criticise the tax agency for not allowing Zahara to 'rest in peace' arguing that pursuing the debt posthumously is insensitive and excessive.

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However, others contend that SARS is acting appropriately, emphasising that the singer's repeated tax evasion while alive justifies the current measures.

In South Africa, as in many other countries, the government retains the right to recover unpaid taxes from a deceased individual's estate.

When a person passes away, their estate—comprising all assets and liabilities—is managed by an executor.

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The executor's role is to settle any outstanding debts, including tax liabilities, before distributing the remaining assets to the heirs.

Tax debt does not simply vanish upon death. Instead, it becomes a priority claim on the estate.

SARS, like other creditors, is entitled to recover what it is owed from the deceased’s assets.

If the estate does not have sufficient liquid assets to cover the tax debt, the executor may need to sell the property or other assets to satisfy the obligation.

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This legal principle ensures that the state's tax revenue remains protected and that individuals cannot evade their tax responsibilities through death.

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Email: news@pulselive.co.ke

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