New charges for Shauwn Mpisane

2012-10-20 00:00

DURBAN tender queen Shauwn Mpisane was given a rude awakening yesterday morning when Hawks investigators served up fresh charges ahead of her fraud trial on Monday.

Mpisane, known for her lavish lifestyle paid for by a steady supply of lucrative government tenders, was slapped with one count each of corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

She appeared in the Pinetown Regional Court and was granted bail.

The new charges were linked to a meeting on October 11 the state said she had with Nilendra Allopi, a state witness in her pending tax trial. Mpisane allegedly asked Allopi at the meeting to amend some invoices, which he did.

The invoices form part of the evidence in her pending trial. By doing so, the state claimed Allopi’s testimony would be shredded for lack of credibility.

In exchange for his help, Allopi was allegedly guaranteed “future design and monitoring work” by Mpisane at the Umlazi Infill Housing Project.

The R140 million project has been the subject of much controversy after it was initially awarded to Mpisane’s Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport company by the eThekwini council last year, using a procurement clause that bypasses tenders.

The council subsequently suspended the tender when legal officials queried its legitimacy. Mpisane challenged the suspension in court and the municipality relented, handing the contract back to her.

Yesterday, Mpisane appeared in the Pinetown Regional Court and immediately applied for bail, which was granted by magistrate Wendelyn Robinson after brief argument by both legal teams.

Prosecutor Yuban Archary had opposed bail, saying Mpisane would interfere with witnesses and showed a “propensity” to tamper with evidence.

However, Robinson set bail at R50 000 and Mpisane and her husband, Sbu, dashed to the cash hall before the courts closed. The case was postponed to November 27.

Outside, Mpisane’s lawyer, Themba Mjoli, said she was happy to have received bail, but questioned the new charges, saying they were confused. “We believe they are trumped up charges,” he said.

Earlier, advocate Jimmy Howse, instructed by Mjoli, said Mpisane was “puzzled” by the charges.

He denied Mpisane was inclined to obstruct the course of justice and said she had honoured bail conditions in a previous tax fraud case, in which she was convicted and received a suspended sentence in 2005.

Mpisane’s legal team took exception to her arrest at 7 am yesterday, when investigating officer Johan Prinsloo arrived at her Umhlanga home with other officers.

Arrangements were made for Mpisane to present herself at Malvern police station, from where she was taken to court.

She arrived in a police Nissan Sentra and was taken into the building through a private court entrance after photographers descended on her.

Mpisane wore a black dress accessorised with a large turquoise belt and matching watch strap. Sbu was casually attired in a soft blue denim shirt.

Mpisane stood in the dock throughout the afternoon hearing, declining to sit.

Evidence will finally begin to be led in her tax trial, where she faces 119 counts, all but one of them for fraud, on Monday.

Mpisane allegedly had invoices and financial statements altered to score a R4,7 million tax break.

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