Durban – The assets of Durban tenderpreneur couple Shauwn and S’bu Mpisane will be held for at least another two months by the South African Revenue Service (Sars) as it prepares to seize more than R200 million in taxes from the flamboyant pair.
On Tuesday, Durban High Court Judge Kate Pillay granted the application sought by Sars to extend the preservation order that was originally granted in November.
The application, brought by Advocate Simon Anderton for Sars, was unopposed and there was no legal representative for the Mpisanes, who themselves were not present in court.
The order allowed Sars to seize and preserve assets from the Mpisanes as the tax authority prepares to claw back in excess of R204 million it believes it is owed in taxes from as far back as 2008, as revealed in court papers.
Those papers allege that Shauwn Mpisane owes R57 million of this in her personal capacity. While most of the assets are in Shauwn’s name, both S’bu and Shauwn have been targeted in the preservation order because they are married in community of property.
Their known assets include 128 cars and 10 properties, including their lavish La Lucia home which has played host to some of the city’s most extravagant parties attended by South Africa’s political elite, celebrities and business tycoons.
Over the last decade, the Mpisanes have secured over R1 billion in government business, predominantly to build low-income houses.
They are being represented by Johannesburg-based tax lawyer, Jennifer Faber from Faber Goëtz Ellis Austen Inc.
The preservation order was extended to March 13, by which time the couple is expected to submit “answering affidavits”.
The preservation order was brought against the couple and their companies Zikhulise Group, Zikhulise Cleaning Maintenance and Transport CC, Zikhulise Auto Restorers CC, Inyanga Trading 559 (Pty) Ltd, Royal Eagles Football Club and Zikhulise Auto Recoveries (Pty) Ltd as well as a Mr Madoda Mbeje, a trustee of the Mpisane family trust, the Sbusha Trust.
The Sunday Tribune reported late last year that the couple had been declared “factually insolvent” by Sars.
This is not the first time the Mpisane’s have had a run in with Sars.
In June 2011, Shauwn was criminally charged for VAT fraud and forgery, totalling 119 charges, at the Durban Magistrate’s Court relating to the 2008 tax year. A year later, she was re-arrested, this time for interfering with a state witness, who she allegedly tried to bribe with the offer of lucrative contracts.
This matter was heard at the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court.
In 2013, in an unrelated matter, Shauwn was charged again, this time at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court, for allegedly forging her construction company’s Construction Industry Development Board grading.
This alleged forgery allowed Shauwn to score contracts above her company’s competency between 2007 and 2013.
But by mid-2013, the State’s cases in the Durban and Pinetown magistrate courts began to unravel when Shauwn’s defence claimed the State’s lead prosecutor, Advocate Meera Naidu, had coached a key State witness and withheld information from the defence team.
Shauwn’s defence made representations to the then National Director of Public Prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana where they alleged Naidu’s conduct was so serious it was a “miscarriage of justice”.
On January 31, 2014, the Nxasana, agreed, and stopped the tax-related trials in both Pinetown and Durban, acquitting Shauwn on some charges while withdrawing others.
Naidu was suspended pending an internal disciplinary hearing.
Sars had also formally withdrawn its support for the trial.
Coincidentally, just two weeks prior to Nxasana’s decision, the Commercial Crime Court also withdrew its charges on the grounds that the State was not ready to proceed.
Nearly two years later, in December 2015, Naidu was cleared of any wrongdoing in her handling of the Mpisane trial and returned to work.