Mpisanes swap tenders for philanthropy

2014-06-15 15:00

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Durban’s blingest couple, S’bu and Shauwn Mpisane, will kick off a major charm offensive tomorrow as they hand over the refurbished Nhlakanipho High School in ­KwaMashu.

The school, S’bu’s alma mater, cost about R20?million to renovate. There will be more acts of philanthropy from the city’s most well-known tenderpreneurs in the next few months as the couple try to boost their image.

The Mpisanes recently hired up-and-coming publicist ­Sanelisiwe Bhengu, though they insist her job will be to manage media relations rather than to give them an image makeover.

The public’s view of the powerful, politically connected couple was hammered during a four-year battle with the SA Revenue Service and the commercial crimes unit.

Until late last year, Shauwn faced three separate trials in which she was charged with tender fraud, tax fraud and witness tampering.

Last year, the state’s case collapsed in both the tax and tender fraud matters and assets valued at more than R400?million were returned to the couple.

S’bu said: “We are busy working and do not have the time to deal with the media constantly. We have hired a publicist to deal with this.”

Tomorrow, top politicians including Agriculture Deputy Minister Bheki Cele, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu will attend the handover of the revamped school, where former metro cop S’bu completed his matric.

“This is about giving back to the community,” S’bu told City Press. “About four years ago, I drove past the school and I saw it was in a terrible condition.

“It was no longer what could be called a school. I went inside and spoke to the principal and told him I was willing to sort out the classrooms and toilets to ensure that it became an environment students could benefit from. Then things occurred between the state and ourselves and I put a stop on the project. [That cloud was] cleared and I went back and said ‘I promised to do ABC, I’m now prepared to do more.’”

The revamp included ­upgraded classrooms and a hall, an athletics track, football pitch and space for indigenous games, a laboratory and drama centre.

The school gardens have also been landscaped. S’bu said the couple had other charitable projects in the pipeline, but declined to elaborate on these.

“We do have some other projects like this where we are giving back. We will do the groundwork first and then inform people when things are in place. If you pledge and don’t do anything or only come back in five years, you look like a bad person,” he said.

The Mpisanes, famous for their in-your-face fashion and massive parties, have also ventured into the world of football with the purchase of ­Mpumalanga’s Mbombela-based National First Division club Sivutsa Stars FC for R8?million.

The team, now called Royal Eagles, has relocated to Durban.

Mpisane is aiming high with the project and hopes that the team – which held trials this week at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium – will work its way into the Premier Soccer League within “a couple” of years. “I’m not going to be involved on a day-to-day basis. We have hired a technical team to manage and run the club. The ambition is definitely to end up in the Premiership.

“We are giving ourselves a year or two to get to understand and know soccer better and then our aim is to get to the Premiership – the sooner the better.”

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