Mpisane’s fate in hands of new NPA boss

2013-10-22 14:46

Durban tender queen Shauwn Mpisane will have to wait until January 31 to hear if the state will drop the tax fraud and corruption charges brought against her by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) more than three years ago.

This after Regional Court Magistrate Blessing Msani granted – in part – a state application for an adjournment until the first quarter of next year for newly appointed National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana to consider representations by Mpisane that the case be withdrawn because of prosecutorial misconduct and other weaknesses in the case against her.

Msani, who was critical of the state’s request to adjourn the case mid-trial to allow the decision to be made, ruled that Nxasana take a decision and pass it on to Mpisane’s lawyers before January 31.

Should Nxasana, who has undertaken to personally consider the application, refuse to withdraw, the case will proceed on March 31.

Msani has reserved a month of court time for the case, which stems from Mpisane’s alleged inflating of payments by her Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport by R4.7 million and running a company despite having a previous conviction for tax fraud.

Msani also ordered that Mpisane’s passport, seized when she was arrested in 2009, be returned to her and that any restrictions on the high-living fashionista’s travel be lifted.

During today’s argument of the state’s application for an adjournment, Msani was critical of the apparent “passing of the buck” by acting NDPP head Nomgcobo Jiba, who – it appeared – did nothing to address Mpisane’s representations despite the clear urgency of the matter.

The state’s application was brought by Advocate Jan Ferreira, who heads the reinforced state team appointed to replace the lead prosecutor, Meera Naidu, who was removed for alleged prosecutorial misconduct over suppressing evidence beneficial to Mpisane regarding her attempts to comply with Sars regulations.

In court, Rafik Bhana, senior counsel for Mpisane, flayed the prosecution over alleged attempts to mislead the court and over the “hostile and cynical” tone of the application, which he claimed “hurled abuse” at his client.

Bhana said the prosecution had “manipulated” state witnesses into pleading guilty and giving evidence against his client when they were aware that she was in fact tax compliant and when they knew the state had not suffered any loss.

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