Mpisane defence attempts to discredit SARS state witness

2013-06-26 00:00

THE legal counsel representing controversial Durban businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane in a

multi-million rand fraud and corruption case made every attempt to discredit a key state witness.

Heard in the Durban Regional Court yesterday, Rafik Bhana SC for Mpisane, repeatedly called into question the reliability of SA Revenue Services (SARS) senior auditor Waheeda Osman.

Key to his questioning was whether Osman had acted irregularly in auditing Mpisane’s company Zik­hulise Cleaning, Maintenance, and Transport CC.

During Mpisane’s last appearance in May, the court queried her invoices on evidence given by Osman.

It was found that the amounts on allegedly fake invoices she submitted were lower than on the genuine invoices issued by suppliers.

Osman said during May’s proceedings the genuine invoices, for R6,5 million, had exceeded the value of the fictitious invoices by R1,5 million.

Bhana’s line of questioning circled around internal e-mail correspondence by SARS officials in which Osman was a recipient.

Bhana’s strategy in discrediting Osman was made easier by the latter’s refusal to answer questions with either a yes or no. Instead, Osman wanted to show the court she was not instrumental to the investigation into Mpisane, but rather only “consulted” with by the investigation’s “primary caregivers” for administration purposes. Her answers were by her own admission “ramblings”. She also blamed her e-mail inbox for blocking key e-mails relating to the investigation.

“How you are answering is a sign of the dishonest way you are giving evidence,” said Bhana.

The Witness has learnt Osman had in the morning session made mention under examination by Bhana that she had been privy to transcripts of evidence given by another witness, SARS group executive Mashudu Johannes Makwakwa, prior to her giving her written affidavit. Makwakwa gave evidence in November 2012 on behalf of the state.

If Osman did have sight of Makwa­kwa’s evidence and it is further validated, it could seriously hurt the National Prosecuting Authority’s case and make certain aspects of the evidence inadmissible.

Bhana also accused the prosecution of suppressing evidence and omitting evidence that should have been entered into the court record.

Sitting in the accused box, Mpisane, in a colourful outfit with matching accessories and extravagantly braided hair, sat relaxed surrounded by files either making notes or listening.

Mpisane is accused of inflating invoices by more than R5 million in an attempt to cut her tax bill. She is also charged with violating the Close Corporations Act by remaining the sole member of Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance, and Transport CC when she had a previous fraud conviction. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

According to the state, Zikhulise CC’s bookkeeper Kishal Reddy forged four invoices to the amount of R5 053 035. This was allegedly done on Mpisane’s instructions.

Reddy has pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery, and to contravening the VAT Act. The trial continues today.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.