Mpisane did not commit fraud – lawyer

2013-02-08 13:47

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Fraudulent documents that businesswoman Shawn Mpisane was alleged to have submitted were never used for tenders, the Durban Commercial Crimes Court was told.

Jimmy Howse, the lawyer representing Mpisane at her bail application, said today his client, who faces 53 charges of fraud, forgery, and uttering, would be acquitted.

Mpisane is accused of submitting false documents to obtain Construction Industry Development Board gradings, which were then used to obtain public works department tenders worth R140 million.

But Howse said today that “no grading was ever done on the alleged fraudulent documentation”.

The prosecution argued that Mpisane had a propensity to commit crime, but Howse argued the state had failed to prove a propensity to commit crimes similar to those she has been charged with in this case.

He argued that his client had pleaded guilty to fraud in a tax case in May 2005, but that since then there had been no other crimes. He said the court had no such evidence before it.

“The mere existence of pending cases cannot be proof of a propensity to commit crime.”

The court heard that Mpisane had contracts worth R658 million.

Referring to the public outcry raised by the prosecution, Howse said “the public does not know that the contracts were completed satisfactorily”.

Yesterday it was argued that the Asset Forfeiture Unit’s attempt to secure R140 million in assets from Mpisane was misguided as it was based on three completed tenders and one tender where no work had begun or payments had been made.

Work was taking place on only one of the tenders – a clinic in Durban’s Inanda area.

He said it was bizarre that the alleged victim of the alleged crime – in this case the public works department – was continuing to honour the contract.

Mpisane said she intended pleading not guilty to the charges.

Earlier this week, the Asset Forfeiture Unit seized her property and 51 cars.

Prosecutor Joanne Bromley-Gans said yesterday that the State opposed granting Mpisane bail, as she was already out on bail when some of the alleged offences were committed.

She alleged that Mpisane had interfered with a witness in another matter.

Bromley-Gans is expected to deliver closing argument in the bail application later today, after which it is expected that Magistrate Gerrie Maree will hand down his ruling.

Mpisane will also stand trial in May, on accusations that she inflated invoices by more than R5 million to cut her tax bill.

The case continues.

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