Sars' bizarre decision in Shauwn Mpisane case

2013-10-13 14:00

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Tender queen’s company given a tax-clearance certificate by taxman despite state charges of tax fraud

Shauwn Mpisane, Durban’s tender queen, has won a major battle to keep her business empire intact. She’s been awarded tax clearance by the SA Revenue Service (Sars).

Mpisane is due back in court on Wednesday on tax fraud charges – charges brought against her by Sars.

City Press can reveal that Mpisane’s Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport was awarded tax clearance on September 20, despite the court case, after repeated applications were refused by Sars officials in Durban.

The clearance, which City Press has seen, is valid for a year.

It states that Mpisane is in “good standing” with Sars and had not, as at that date, contravened the Income Tax Act or the Value Added Tax Act.

It also confirms Mpisane’s good standing regarding employees’ tax, Unemployment Insurance Fund provisions and skills-development levies.

Mpisane recently scored another victory when she provided curator Trevor White with an additional R5 million in cash after making several other large payments this year.

This allowed Mpisane and her former metro police officer husband S’bu to continue with business unhindered and got them back their fleet of top-of-the-range cars, which had been restrained in terms of an asset-forfeiture order.

They are also still building low-cost housing for the eThekwini municipality, having won a battle to retain the R455 million tender they were awarded.

Sars officials this week refused to comment on the clearance award made by its head office in Pretoria and its impact on the charge of R4.7 million in tax fraud brought against Mpisane and Zikhulise.

Mpisane is accused of inflating her VAT payments so that she could claim back more money from the taxman.

She also faces charges of allegedly attempting to bribe a state witness in the case and faces separate charges of defrauding the KwaZulu-Natal department of human settlements and public works.

The company allegedly faked its qualifications to secure registration with the National Home Builders Registration Council, a requirement for tenders it was awarded by the department for a housing contract.

On Wednesday, Mpisane will hear whether the national director of public prosecutions has accepted her legal team’s representations for the prosecution against her to be set aside over alleged misconduct by specialist prosecutor Meera Naidu.

Last month, Naidu was taken off the case and was served with notice of proposed suspension for allegedly suppressing evidence that showed that Mpisane had in fact been paying her taxes.

The state’s key witness, Sars senior auditor Waheeda Osman, also delivered a telling blow to the prosecution’s case when she admitted to “amnesia” over documentation that showed attempts at compliance by Mpisane.

The prosecution was taken over by Pretoria-based National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Advocate Arno Rossouw, who asked for additional time and a move to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban – the case is being heard in the Durban Regional Court – when he was appointed to replace Naidu.

Magistrate Blessing Msani gave him until Wednesday to familiarise himself with the case while the representations were considered.

Msani rejected the attempt to move the case to the high court.

NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke failed to respond to emails and SMSes from City Press at the time of writing.

Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackay refused to comment on Mpisane’s tax status, or the impact of it on the case, saying he was legally obliged to protect the individual taxpayer’s privacy and keep their status confidential.

“Sars would suggest you direct your questions on the tax status of the taxpayer and its commercial activities to the taxpayer in question,” Lackay said.

He said Sars was the complainant in the case and any decision to withdraw would be taken by the NPA, not Sars.

S’bu Mpisane refused to comment.

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