Socialite couple’s bling seized

2013-02-07 00:00

SOCIALITES Sbu and Shauwn Mpisane are on the brink of losing all their property — and starting yesterday, nine luxury vehicles were seized from their La Lucia mansion in Durban.

In a day-long operation, the Asset Forfeiture Unit carted off some of the couple’s multi-million rand fleet under the eye of PricewaterhouseCoopers curator Trevor White. Most were put on flat-bed trucks and taken to Ian Wyles Auctioneers where they will remain indefinitely.

If the latest application to confiscate the well-known couple’s assets is successful, the Mpisanes will lose 60 vehicles, many of them used for their construction business, four properties, including the La Lucia home, which is spread over two plots, the cash in six bank accounts, their household goods and personal effects.

An order to secure their assets was granted last week in the high court in Pietermaritzburg and kept under wraps.

The parties return on February 28.

Authorities are looking to recover more than R140 million earned through a number of government tenders. The Witness learnt that half the amount is being prioritised for now as not all the money was paid over to them. The legal action follows an investigation by the Presidential Anti-corruption Task Team.

In dispute is a grading certificate obtained by Shauwn Mpisane’s company, Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport, from the Construction Industry Development Board. Construction firms cannot tender for projects without a rating from the industry board and investigators are questioning how Mpisane obtained hers.

A criminal hearing in connection with the matter is scheduled to take place in the Commercial Crimes Court in Durban today. KZN prosecutions spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson declined to comment until the suspects have been arrested.

The glamorous couple have openly flaunted their wealth, with extravagant parties, overseas trips and a staggering collection of supercars.

Among the cars removed yesterday were two Rolls Royces, a Maserati, two Porsches, a Ferrari, a Hummer, a Dodge Ram and an armoured BMW 550i. Their value must still be determined. The cars were housed in a garage with glass doors that the couple had converted after snapping up the property next door for a reported R3,5 million. A black Maserati was not removed and two Lamborghinis cited in the application were not at the property. At least two of the cars hadn’t been driven in some time and their batteries were flat.

Car aficionado Sbu Mpisane recently became the face of Bentley in KwaZulu-Natal. The former Metro cop, who attracted an avalanche of attention when he once showed up at work in a Lamborghini, has been given a Bentley Continental Supersports two-door coupe worth R3,5 million, the Sunday Tribune reported.

Attempts to get hold of Bentley were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, residents in the area flocked to the home and stood on the opposite verge, taking pictures as the cars were loaded and driven off.

During the day Addison Road, where the Mpisanes live, was gridlocked at times as motorists stopped to catch the action. Some even hooted their approval. One woman rolled down her window and asked: “What, are they getting raided again?”

The Mpisanes are no strangers to raids on their home or the attachment of their property. Some of their vehicles have been seized before.

In 2010, the South African Revenue Service took possession of their Rolls Royce Phantom convertible and two Lamborghinis for taxes allegedly owed. The cars were returned after the couple settled with SARS in instalments. In 2011, there was a high-profile raid by both SARS and the Hawks on the same home.

Yesterday, the AFU team arrived with investigators from the Hawks and a minibus full of task force members.

Only Sbu Mpisane was seen in the garage as he kept an eye on the proceedings, and despite the events, was said to have been in good spirits.

“He told me to take as much care of them when I bring them back,” said inTercity Towing boss, Ben Brits.

The Mpisanes could not be reached for comment.

Their lawyer, Themba Mjoli, who arrived in the morning, only said: “Another litigation.”

The couple’s legal woes are well documented and Shauwn Mpisane is due to appear in court twice next week in two separate matters, the most serious involving alleged tax fraud.

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