Mpisane gets R100 000 bail

Durban businesswoman Shawn Mpisane was granted R100 000 bail in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court.

Magistrate Gerrie Maree yesterday also ordered that Mpisane could not change her residential address, leave the country, or have contact with witnesses without prior permission.

Earlier Mpisane’s lawyer Jimmy Howse argued that the fraudulent document she allegedly submitted was never used.

Howse said his client, who faces 53 charges of fraud, forgery, and uttering of a forged document, would be acquitted.

Mpisane is accused of submitting forged documents to obtain Construction Industry Development Board gradings, which were then used to win public works department tenders worth R140 million.

But Howse said “no grading was ever done on the alleged fraudulent documentation”.

The prosecution argued on Thursday that Mpisane had a propensity to commit crime. Howse countered yesterday that the State had failed to prove a propensity to commit crimes similar to those with which she had been charged.

He argued his client had pleaded guilty to fraud in a tax case in May 2005, but that since then there had been no other crimes. He said the court had no such evidence before it.

“The mere existence of pending cases cannot be proof of a propensity to commit crime.”

The court heard Mpisane had contracts worth R658 million.

Howse said: “The public does not know that the contracts were completed satisfactorily.”

On Thursday it was argued the Asset Forfeiture Unit’s attempt to attach R140 million in assets from Mpisane was misguided, as it was based on three completed tenders and one tender where no work had begun or payments had been made.

Work was taking place on only one of the tenders, a clinic in Durban’s Inanda area.

He said it was bizarre that the victim of the alleged crime, the public works department, was continuing to honour the contract.

On Thursday, Mpisane said she intended pleading not guilty to the charges.

Earlier this week, the Asset Forfeiture Unit seized her property, including 51 cars.

Prosecutor Joanne Bromley-Gans said on Thursday the State opposed granting Mpisane bail, as she was already out on bail when some of the offences were committed. She alleged Mpisane had interfered with a witness in another matter.

Bromley-Gans told the court on Friday that while the defence had attacked the State’s case, it was Mpisane who was required to show exceptional circumstances as to why she should be granted bail.

Mpisane would stand trial in May, on accusations that she inflated invoices by more than R5 million to cut her tax bill.

The fraud and forgery case was postponed to April 29.

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