‘Asset seizure not needed’

2013-06-21 00:00

DURBAN socialite Shauwn Mpisane, her husband Sbu, their bodyguards and an entourage of supporters emerged from a sleek convoy of four black cars to attend the ongoing high court battle over their assets in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Judge Sharmain Balton has reserved judgment in the case in which the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) is seeking confirmation of an order restraining R70,5 million in assets against the Mpisanes and two companies, Zikhulise Cleaning Maintenance and Transport CC and Zikhulise Auto Restorers CC.

The assets seized in February this year include 60 vehicles and a number of properties.

The intention of the NDPP is to hold these assets as security in the event that Mpisane is convicted of a string of fraud and related charges and a confiscation order is granted by the court.

Mpisane’s legal team argued that the restraint order should be lifted on various grounds such as that the NDPP failed to disclose material facts in the original application which was brought without prior notice to the Mpisane’s.

They complain that the NDPP applied for an order on January 31 restraining R140 million in assets, then “unofficially” reduced the amount to R70,5 million on being told that a tender in relation to Clairwood Hospital worth R69 million, was cancelled.

They argue that if the NDPP had investigated the Mpisanes for two years as alleged, they ought to have known the contract was cancelled.

They also argue there is no correlation between the assets being restrained and the actual benefit (profits) Shauwn Mpisane might receive as a result of her alleged criminal conduct.

They maintain that the NDPP acted in bad faith and had an “ulterior motive” in seeking the restraint order, and argued that there was no risk that if Mpisane were ultimately to be found guilty of the fraud and related charges she faces, a confiscation order would not be satisfied.

Advocates A. Rafik Bhana SC and Adrian Friedman, representing Mpisane, spent the best part of the morning yesterday attempting to persuade the court that court-appointed curator Trevor White had no business to be joined as a party to the proceedings despite allegations against him in Mpisane’s court papers accusing him of malicious and unprofessional behaviour.

White’s advocate, Hoosen Gani, and Advocate Etienne Labuschagne SC for the NDPP counter-argued that White had every right to reply to the allegations and clear his name.

The issue was resolved when Mpisane’s team eventually abandoned their application for White’s removal as curator.

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