Mpisane invoices ‘lost in floods, fires’

2013-05-02 18:27

Durban tenderpreneur Shauwn Mpisane tried to bring down her tax liability by almost R50 million by presenting SARS with forged receipts during an appeal against a 2008 assessment, according to evidence presented in the Durban Regional Court today.

State witness Waheeda Osman, one of the SARS auditors who performed a lifestyle audit on Mpisane’s husband, former traffic cop S’bu, and on Shauwn and her company, Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport CC, said Shauwn Mpisane had attempted to appeal against an assessment.

Osman said Mpisane’s new auditors had produced a revised financial statement which reallocated R28 million of her personal expenditure from 2003 to 2008 as company expenses. This was done in a bid to bring the income tax down from R74 million to R44 million and to reduce the tax on her dividends from R47 million to R28 million.

Osman said in the course of the appeal, she was given a series of invoices which Mpisane had submitted to SARS and asked to verify them. Some suppliers, Osman said, had failed to cooperate, saying they had lost invoices because of “floods, fires and other strange circumstances”.

She had followed up with one supplier who, when shown the invoices, told her they were “forged’’.

Osman said Mpisane had attempted to have her vehicles, including a Porsche and a Lamborghini, classified as business vehicles so she could claim from SARS. They had refused this, but had agreed to allow her to claim use of a Hummer.

Mpisane, she said, claimed that the Hummer was essential for getting to the areas in which the company was building low-cost houses.

Today’s evidence followed two years of adjournments and applications to have the case set aside.

Even then, Magistrate Blessing Msani had to adjourn the hearing several times to allow prosecutor Meera Nair to prepare documents to submit to the court.

Today’s hearing was sparsely attended with S’bu Mpisane and a handful of family members and friends turning up for the trial.

Musician Ray Phiri, who is close friends with the couple, also attended.

S’bu Mpisane was dressed in a black suit and blue shirt while Shauwn Mpisane sported a black top, a multi-coloured dress and her trademark heels.

The atmosphere in court was far less tense than during earlier court appearances and the two bodyguards who accompanied them kept a low profile throughout the day.

Earlier in her evidence, Osman said Mpisane’s dividends paid by Zikhulise shot up from R10.5 million in 2007 to R47 million the following year.

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