Mpisanes lose wheels again

2016-12-18 00:02
The Mpisanes take a picture with the two Rolls-Royces they bought each other during their year-end party at their house in La Lucia, north of Durban. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya

The Mpisanes take a picture with the two Rolls-Royces they bought each other during their year-end party at their house in La Lucia, north of Durban. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya

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Normally at this time of year, Durban’s blingest couple, tenderpreneurs Shauwn and S’bu Mpisane, are busy putting the finishing touches on plans for their New Year’s Eve party, one of the highlights on the city’s social calendar for the well-heeled and politically connected.

But those who want to see Shauwn strutting her stuff on New Year’s Eve in skimpy designer-label gear at her palatial home in posh Umhlanga Ridge, must know that the couple have bigger fish to fry.

This year the couple, whose Zikhulise group of companies have turned over billions of rands in city and provincial government tenders, are busy fighting for their survival.

They are also fighting for the return of their fleet of luxury cars – which include a set of matching Rolls-Royces worth R17 million together – seized from their mansion by SA Revenue Service (Sars) officials last week.

It is not clear at this stage which of their assets were seized, but a list of their possessions which City Press has obtained reveals that apart from their companies, the couple own a fleet of nearly 130 vehicles.

Besides their matching Rolls-Royces, they also have a Dodge Ram, Mercedes X222, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, a McLaren MP4-12C and an Aston Martin Rapide. Other cars include a Rolls-Royce Ghost, a Rolls-Royce Phantom, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, a Porsche Panamera, a Hummer and a Maserati, all of which were seized by Sars and returned after Mpisane’s acquittal from tax fraud charges in February 2014.

The couple also own 10 residential and commercial properties, which include their Umhlanga home, business properties in Pietermaritzburg and a number of farms.

While Sars has refused to comment on the latest round of seizures against the couple and their empire, quoting the need to maintain confidentiality in the affairs of taxpayers, sources close to the investigation told City Press that the seizures were based on two High Court preservation orders.

Sars, the source said, was investigating alleged tax evasion by the five companies owned by the couple, and their Sbusha Trust during the 2014/15 financial year, and had sought preservation orders against them last month in the high courts in Durban and Pretoria.

The orders, which the source says the Mpisanes have yet to oppose, are aimed at preventing them from selling or giving away their cars or property, or removing them before the investigation into them – which could result in fresh criminal charges – is complete.

The companies targeted, he said, are Zikhulise Cleaning Maintenance and Transport CC, the couple’s construction company, Zikhulise Auto Restorers CC, Inyanga Trading 559 (Pty) Ltd, Zikhulise Auto Recoveries (Pty) (Ltd) and the Royal Eagles Football Club, which they bought two years ago.

An order was also secured against Madoda Mbeje, one of the trustees of the Sbusha Trust.

“There is an investigation that there were acts of tax evasion carried out regarding VAT and other aspects of their tax profile,” the insider said.

“The order was secured to ensure there was no attempt to get rid of assets, but some had been removed by the time our curation team arrived on site last week.”

The couple’s troubles with the taxman are nothing new. In 2014, Shauwn walked free after the state withdrew more than 110 counts of tax fraud which had been lodged against her and Zikhulise Cleaning for allegedly inflating their VAT expenditure by more than R4.7 million during the 2007 tax year.

The state had claimed that she had submitted fraudulent income tax statements for that year to Sars and had falsified her VAT returns for the 2009/2010 tax year.

The charges were withdrawn after Mpisane’s legal team alleged that the prosecutor in the case had acted unlawfully in bringing the charges against them. The prosecutor, however, was cleared by a subsequent investigation, although the National Prosecuting Authority has stated that it will not reopen the case against Mpisane.

The couple this week failed to respond to calls and SMS messages from City Press about the seizures, which Sars spokesperson Luther Lebelo declined to comment on.

Last year the couple chose to usher in 2016 on their farm rather than host a glitzy bash. This year, it’s not clear whether their annual party, one of Durban’s most talked about events, will go ahead.

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