Delay in fraud trial: Mpisane could face more charges

2012-10-23 00:00

FURTHER charges could be added to the long list already facing Durban construction tycoon Shauwn Mpisane following another delay in her tax fraud trial.

The matter was adjourned until today after prosecutors applied to consolidate all the charges against Mpisane.

Her three-week trial was set to resume in the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Mpisane is defending 119 allegations, all but one of them for tax fraud.

She is accused of retrospectively changing her financial statements from 2008 to evade tax.

On Friday, she was charged afresh with one count of corruption and one count of obstructing or defeating the ends of justice and bailed in the Pinetown Regional Court on R50 000.

These two cases are the ones which the state has applied to join because, although separate, they are seen as “intertwined” and “intimately linked”.

But it emerged yesterday Mpisane’s legal team was handed a new charge sheet on Friday evening reflecting a revised total of 131 charges. That would suggest a further 10 await Mpisane.

Defence advocate Jimmy Howse caused some mirth in court when he divulged that prosecutors had handed over the wrong charge sheet.

Prosecutor Meera Naidu quickly told magistrate Blessing Msane that the charge sheet was a “working copy” and a revised version could be used in a forthcoming application.

Naidu argued that new evidence had come to light after Mpisane’s plea in June, when she pleaded not guilty.

Investigators had interrogated her plea and, said Naidu, uncovered evidence of alleged “further transgressions”. This irked Howse, who expressed frustration with the state, saying his client was ready for trial.

“The difficulty the accused has is that the position of the state is ever-changing. They have had months to investigate. Why now, on the morning of resumption of trial, are we still in a position where the state has not sorted itself out?”

Howse indicated that he would launch an application, possibly today, asking the magistrate to look into any further delays.

Mpisane and her supporters murmured in objection when Naidu suggested to Msane that not only should he approve her application to join the two cases, but they should return on November 27 when her Pinetown matter resumes.

In that case, Mpisane allegedly approached a witness in her fraud trial and asked him to doctor some invoices that formed part of the dossier of evidence being used against her.

The state claims she guaranteed the witness, Nilendra Allopi, business in return.

Court started more than two hours late as prosecutors worked on their application.

When proceedings started, Mpisane refused to enter the dock until photographers had been ejected from the courtroom.

Once Msane asked them to leave, she took her place, bringing a shot of colour to the drab surroundings with a showy off-the-shoulder dress adorned with sequins, in a loud turquoise and lavender pattern.

• brett.horner@witness.co.za

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