Mpisane turns heads in court

2011-06-03 00:00

THE usually drab Court 10 at the Durban Magistrate’s Court was enlivened with a bit of colour and brand awareness yesterday when Mabongi Flora-Junior Mpisane — also known as Shaun Mkhize — appeared on charges of tax evasion and fraud.

Mpisane, the wife of former Durban Metro police officer-turned-multi-millionaire Sibusiso Mpisane, turned heads in her designer cream dress, diamond-studded bracelet, Christian Dior sunglasses, an Emporio Armani hat and impressively high platform shoes.

But magistrate Anita Naidoo appeared to be not the least bit impressed and asked the accused to remove her sunglasses and stand when she addressed the court.

Mpisane was granted bail of R50 000 and the case was adjourned until July 11 as investigations proceed.

Said Naidoo, “The court takes into consideration that the accused is not a flight risk and that she is mother to a 10-year old boy. Therefore bail is granted. However, her passport will remain with the courts through the proceedings, which is likely to take more than two months.”

Mpisane handed herself over to the police on Wednesday on the day the South African Revenue Services (SARS) and Hawks raided her posh Durban home.

According to the charge sheet presented in court, Mpisane is accused of unlawfully, falsely and with intent to defraud misrepresenting submissions on her VAT 201 returns as correct.

The money involved is around R2,5 million, the court heard.

Mpisane’s attorney, Themba Mjoli, argued during the bail application that the court should not take the figure as correct, saying that his client is involved in a civil claim with SARS.

“SARS owed her R10 million because they assessed her at a particular figure,” Mjoli said.

He added that SARS has already paid Mpisane R6 million and that R4 million is still outstanding.

It emerged in court that Mpisane has a previous tax-related conviction.

Mjoli said Mpisane had not deliberately defrauded SARS, saying she was not familiar with the issue of paying tax.

Sibusiso Mpisane was nowhere to be seen, alhtough the couple’s Porsche Cayenne, just one of their many exotic cars, was parked some distance from the court, probably to avoid the glare of the media.

Mpisane is also accused of having failed to declare taxes via her company, Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport.

On Wednesday the Hawks and SARS swooped on the couple’s La Lucia house and business in an elaborate raid.

Authorities were tight-lipped about details of the raid as a large media contingent gathered outside the R15 million mansion in Addison Drive, La Lucia, and with passer-bys slowing down to rubberneck.

The couple are best known for their fleet of expensive cars — including a Rolls Royce Phantom and Lamborghinis — and the lavish parties that celebrities and politicians flocked to.

SARS spokesperson Adrian Lackay said the authorities had a search-and-seizure warrant and the raid was part of an tax-related investigation.

In March last year SARS seized three vehicles worth nearly R17 million belonging to the couple to cover unpaid taxes.

SARS took possession of their Rolls Royce Phantom convertible, valued at about R7 million, and two Lamborghinis valued at about R4,5 million and R5 million

The Mpisanes threw a lavish party on New Year’s Eve, which was attended by national Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele and several celebrities.

The couple voluntarily handed over some of their moveable assets last year as surety and pledged to pay SARS over a few months.

In 2009 it was reported that the couple had received R219 million from the eThekwini Municipality to build low-income houses on 4 500 sites in Umlazi.

The National Home Builders’ Registration Council found defects in more than 1 000 of the 3 000 houses built by Zikhulise Cleaning and Transport, owned by the Mpisanes.

Of the defects, 30% were serious and would require major renovations.

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