Shauwn trial: now 131 charges

2012-10-27 00:00

THE privilege of wealth was wielded by state prosecutors against multi-millionaire Durban businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane during her tax fraud trial yesterday.

Opposing an application by Mpisane’s defence team to stop unnecessary delays, prosecutor Meera Naidu said the state had bent over backwards to accommodate her requests.

These included a late appearance in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on the day of her arrest on June 2, 2011 to avoid the waiting media.

The same generosity, said Naidu, was extended to Mpisane when she was scheduled for arrest again on October 19. Two more charges of corruption and defeating or obstructing the ends of justice were levelled against her in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court that day.

Altogether, Mpisane is facing 119 charges, all but one relating to alleged tax fraud. She has pleaded not guilty.

Arguments in the Durban Regional Court yesterday confirmed a new charge sheet with 131 counts is heading her way.

The state essentially wants to prosecute Mpisane in one case that combines all the extra charges.

The defence argued this week that consolidating the charges would amount to further unnecessary delays and thereby prejudice Mpisane.

In response, Naidu — quoting from an affidavit by investigating officer Johan Prinsloo — said running parallel trials on the various batches of charges was unfair.

“The same state witnesses will also have to testify during the three separate trials, giving the same evidence which I submit is prejudicial and most definitely not in the interest of justice.”

The trial was set down for the second time this week, to run for three weeks, but both sides have busied the court with applications.

Advocate Jimmy Howse said prosecutors appeared unable to make up their minds.

But Naidu countered, saying no-one, particularly the wealthy, should be absolved of paying tax.

Mpisane’s close corporation Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport, which appears as the first accused, has earned her and her husband — former Metro cop, Sbu Mpisane — a fortune in housing tenders over the years, a rich vein of form that continues today.

Prinsloo’s affidavit revealed how he agreed not to arrest Mpisane the first time and instead met her at Point police station. He then further accommodated her by agreeing to let her appear in court later that day.

Media covering her trial have come in for special attention from supporters of the couple and at least two altercations have taken place in court after photographers tried to snap Mpisane in the dock.

Yesterday, an Independent Newspapers photographer was persuaded in a barely veiled threat by a bodyguard not to take a picture in court, even though permission had been granted.

Magistrate, Blessing Msane adjourned proceedings to Monday.

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