Corruption Watch reporter
The decision on whether or not fraud and corruption charges against Durban businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane will be reinstated lies with the national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana, who is yet to examine a report from the prosecution team on reasons for withdrawing the case.
The Durban Commercial Crime Court on Wednesday dropped 53 charges against Mpisane following a delay in the state’s submission of a key piece of evidence before the cut-off date set by the court.
National spokesperson for the NPA, Nathi Mncube, told Corruption Watch on Thursday that only when he had read through the reasons by the prosecution to withdraw the charges, will Nxasana decide. “Anything else regarding the possibility of re-opening the case would be pure speculation,” he said.
A news report on City Press Online stated that Natasha Ramkisson confirmed on behalf of the NPA in KwaZulu-Natal that the withdrawal was the result of the state’s failure to finalise a forensic report in time, to back up its tender fraud charges against Mpisane.
Mpisane owns a company called Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport. She was accused of forging documents to secure a favourable grading with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) for tenders applied for between the period of 2005 and 2012. These had a total value of R140-million.
City Press further reported that Mpisane will now get back assets valued at R70 million – including R28 million in cash – which have been restrained by the Asset Forfeiture Unit since she was arrested over the five school and clinic tenders issued by the public works department last year.
Mncube, however, could not comment on this as he said he was unaware of reimbursements to be made to Mpisane.
Dubbed Durban’s “Queen of bling”, Mpisane was the subject of a KwaZulu-Natal Anti-corruption Task Team investigation that probed the awarding of tenders to her company. The head of the task team, Colonel Kuben Naidoo, stated in an affidavit in 2013 that between September 2005 and September 2012 “Mpisane, or people acting on behalf of her company, had submitted tenders to the provincial public works department for various construction projects that were awarded based on CIDB grades”.
At the time of her arrest, IOL reported that a source within the construction industry defended Mpisane’s company and her work by saying that construction companies had tried to discredit her because she was not part of a price-fixing cartel.
“She refused to be drawn into this collusion where some of the biggest companies in the construction industry have been exposed for price collusion, which was well-known in the industry for the past two years,” said her defender.
Together with her husband, former Durban metro cop Sbu, Mpisane is widely reported to lead an extravagant lifestyle largely funded by government contracts valued at millions that her companies have won over the years.
Upon her arrest last year, the couple’s home in the upmarket suburb of La Lucia in the north of Durban – valued at around R80-million – was reportedly seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit, along with some 25 luxury vehicles and 35 work vehicles.
Not completely off the hook
Mpisane still has two other cases pending against her. In the Durban Regional Court she is accused of inflating Zikhulise invoices by almost R5-million to alleviate her tax bill.
In the Pinetown Magistrate's Court she is accused of interfering with a State witness related to the tax fraud case.