Mpisane trial to proceed despite delay

2012-11-02 19:21

Durban - The Durban Regional Court rejected a State application on Friday to postpone the trial of businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane.

"I may not grant the application to join the tax-related charges with the Pinetown charges, as I have found out there has been an unreasonable delay," magistrate Blessing Msane said.

"This matter will proceed on Monday with the charges the accused pleaded to in June."

Mpisane's fraud trial was to have started last Monday.

However, the State applied for the charges she faced in the Pinetown Magistrate's Court to be transferred to the Durban Regional Court, where she faced other charges, so the cases could be heard together.


Mabongi Flora-Junior "Shauwn" Mpisane is accused of inflating invoices by more than R5 million to cut her tax bill.

She is also accused of violating the Close Corporations Act by remaining the sole member of Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport CC when she had a previous fraud conviction.

She has pleaded not guilty.

On 19 October, she was arrested on fresh charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice for allegedly contacting one of the witnesses expected to testify in her fraud trial.

She appeared in the Pinetown Magistrate's Court and was released on bail of R50 000.

Msane ruled on three applications: one brought by the defence to investigate the unreasonable delay in the trial; another by the State for the joining of charges; and one for the amendment of the charge sheet.

19+ court appearances

According to the courts records, Mpisane has appeared in court 19 times since June 2011, but Msane said there could have been more appearances.

"All that was happening in this period was applications and counter applications. This obviously places the administration of justice in a bad light."

Msane said the media had reported a lot on the case being postponed or delayed.

"This gives the wrong impression that every time the accused appears the matter is postponed. This must come to an end," Msane said.

"The State has somersaulted and moved goal-posts, with the end result being the lack of progress... in the matter."
The State has amended Mpisane's charge sheet four times.

Amended charges

Initially, she was charged with 173 charges. This was revised to 119.

A draft charge sheet with amendments was later submitted to the defence, and on October 22 the State produced a charge sheet with 131 charges.

Msane said the 12 recently added charges should have been investigated before Mpisane pleaded, because the State was aware of the explanation Mpisane gave to the SA Revenue Service in her defence.

He said the State's argument that the charges arose after Mpisane's plea explanation in June was incorrect.

The State had had two years to investigate Mpisane.

Had this not been sufficient time, the State should not have charged her, he said.

"The State should have waited until it got its house in order and made up its mind about charges it wanted to bring."

Not the same

Msane said the State was incorrect to say the witnesses in the fraud and corruption trial, and those in the matter in the Pinetown Magistrate's Court, were the same.

The matter in the Pinetown Magistrate's Court still had to be investigated, and the practice of the court was to deal with matters which were ready for trial.

"That matter is not settled. It may or may not go to trial, therefore there is nothing that suggests we must postpone the trial for a matter that is not known," Msane said.

"The accused is entitled to a verdict after her plea explanation. The accused can not be left in limbo with a case hanging over her head."

Msane said Mpisane has been financially prejudiced by the State as her lawyers were charging her for their time.