South Africa

Flammable musings about R12K candle

Jennie Ridyard column Sars

I’m assuming the R12 000 scented candle currently on sale in South Africa is a honeytrap set by the SA Revenue Service (Sars).

Yes, R12 000. For a candle. I kid you not.

Look, there it is, right next to the R14 000 candle made from dodo musk and orphan tears.

If someone has that much money to burn (literally) on a candle, then I cannot help but assume they must have very interesting tax affairs, because who has that kind of pocket change?

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You may as well set fire to your cash, although maybe that’s the joke: light the candle, watch your money burn, throw another indigent on the fire.

The autumn evenings will fly by. So, who is buying a R12 000 candle in South Africa, the most unequal country in the world?

Surely anyone literally burning R12 000 is also aware – or should be made aware – that this is three times the monthly wage of an unskilled worker, of those people keeping their house/s, their garden/s and their swimming pool/s nice.

I hope they’re paying their staff more than the price of their candles, but I doubt it. In a country where 32% of employable South Africans do not have work, people too often feel justified paying bottom dollar.

It’s revolting, it’s revolution-causing, and yet, and yet… who am I – who are we – to judge?

If someone’s tax affairs are honest and in order (stop laughing, you at the back), if they are earning the top-tier figure of R1.8 million stated by revenue, then theoretically they are already paying R644 489 into the country’s coffers this year – with an additional 45% tax charged on anything above the threshold.

What’s left is theirs to spend.

Perhaps they employ many people; perhaps they support several charities; perhaps they fund a donkey sanctuary; perhaps they do pay their staff what they are worth and not just what they can get away with.

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Perhaps a R12 000 candle is their treat after a selfless year.

Still, who would spend R12 000 on a candle – even if it contained a unicorn wick and silver beads of Brad Pitt’s perspiration?

For the record, the candle in question comprises aromas of bergamot, oud, neroli, incense, sandalwood, amber, myrrh and musk (non-dodo).

And, oops, my mistake, it costs R12 890.