Shauwn Mpisane not off the hook

2014-02-23 14:00

Prosecutors are continuing to investigate a fraud case against Durban tenderpreneur Shauwn Mpisane.

The case was withdrawn after the state failed to meet a deadline to present a forensic report to back up its charges.

On Monday, the investigating officer and two members of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) team were to travel to Pretoria to meet officials from the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).

They were to interview CIDB officials about the case and take more affidavits in the matter, which relates to Mpisane’s company, Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport, allegedly falsifying its qualifications to secure multimillion-rand tenders from the public works department.

A source with knowledge of the meeting confirmed that it had gone ahead. City Press has seen the police memo dated February 11 in which authorisation for the trip, listing its purpose, was granted by the national head of the ­anti-corruption task team.

By yesterday, NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube had not responded to repeated phone calls, emails and SMSes ­requesting comment.

KwaZulu-Natal’s director of public prosecutions Moipone Noko has hit back at criticism that she decided not to grant representations by Mpisane for the dropping of charges in a separate tax fraud case.

Mpisane was acquitted on that matter on January 31 after national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana granted the representations.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Meera Naidu, was earlier removed from the case.

Noko rubbished claims that she “protected” Naidu, saying she “supported” her in the trial as with any staff member.

“I did my job. Their complaint is that I did not favourably consider their representations. I don’t think I did anything wrong,” she said.

Meanwhile, Noko and her senior staff have been cleared by an inquiry into allegations of maladministration at the NPA’s Pietermaritzburg office.

The inquiry was conducted by Durban attorney Comfort Ngidi on behalf of the NPA last year.

“The Ngidi report is an internal document of the NPA so I can’t talk about it in detail, save to say that there was no substance to the allegations?–?close to 20 of them?–?of various irregularities against senior management in the office, ­including myself,” Noko said.

She said she believed the complaints were part of a “character assassination” campaign by a group of staff members who want her replaced by their own choice of director.

“There are people whose agenda is to get me out of my position. They are trying to get rid of me using every means they know, including newspaper articles. They have used City Press to taint my name for me to be seen as somebody who is unable to hold this office?...?someone who is not able to hold the fort.”

Media reports criticising her for withdrawing charges against MECs Mike Mabuyakhulu and Peggy Nkonyeni in the Amigos corruption trial were also linked to this campaign, she said.

“I sat down with the [Amigos] prosecution team. It was they who made me aware of discrepancies in the case. They were privy to the details. I went through the documents and realised they were true. It would have been malicious to proceed with the prosecution after becoming aware that there was not sufficient evidence to win the case.”

She denied that politics was involved.

“I do not know [Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni]. I do not associate with them in any way whatsoever. My main reason for withdrawing the case was that there was no possibility of a successful prosecution. If something does come up in evidence, we may still proceed, but for now it hasn’t gone for investigation.”

Noko also dismissed claims that she had been given her job as payback for withdrawing charges of intimidation against President Jacob Zuma’s fifth wife, Thobeka Madiba.

“That’s not true at all. I never handled the case personally nor was I aware of it. I only became aware of it when I read about it in the newspaper.

“There are thousands of cases in this province. I don’t know all of them. The case was dealt with by a prosecutor without my knowledge, intervention or interference. I did not have any influence in the matter at all,” she said.

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