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Durban - Property to the value of R70 million, including R23m in cash, is to be released to Durban businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane within seven days in terms of a court order granted by consent on Monday.
Her lawyer, Shaukat Karim, said Mpisane was elated at the decision. His firm had launched an application earlier this month for the rescission of a high court decision to put the assets under restraint pending the finalisation of the criminal and confiscation proceedings.
The matter was to have been heard on Thursday, but an agreement was reached on Monday between the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Mpisane’s legal team.
Last month State advocate Wendy O’Brien withdrew the 53 charges of fraud, forgery and uttering against Mpisane in the commercial crime court because the State could not meet a deadline to hand over certain information to the defence.
Also last month, the Durban Regional Court acquitted Mpisane and her company of 119 counts of tax fraud involving R4.7m, after the NPA decision to stop the prosecution because of alleged irregularities.
Pietermaritzburg High Court judge Kate Pillay granted the order by consent, giving the curator, Trevor White of PriceWaterhouse Coopers, seven days to release all the property under his control and all the documents he had obtained from Mpisane and her company, Zikhulise Cleaning and Maintenance and Transport CC.
The assets had been restrained as a result of Mpisane being accused of submitting forged documents to secure Construction Industry Development Board gradings that were used to win five Department of Public Works contracts worth R140m.
In her founding affidavit in the application to have her assets returned, Mpisane said Karim had inquired from the State whether the withdrawal of the charges was final or provisional and whether it contemplated re-instating the charges.
However, she said the prosecution refused to provide this information which led to her attorneys in the restraint proceedings, Garlicke and Bousfield, writing to the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) last month to facilitate the return of the restrained property.
They were informed by the AFU that O’Brien believed that the withdrawal of the charges was based on technical reasons and that the State intended reinstating the charges, but no date was provided.
Mpisane complained about the lengthy delays in the criminal matter and that an initial order to restrain her assets, on January 31 last year, was granted before she was criminally charged.
According to the consent order, the restraint order granted in October is rescinded and White also has to account to Mpisane for all the restrained assets as well as any interest earned from them and any benefit derived from them from January 31 until the date all the restrained assets are returned.
Further, the Registrar of Deeds in Pietermaritzburg has to remove all endorsements as a result of the restraint order on the title deeds for Mpisane’s properties in Pinetown, La Lucia, Briardene, uMhlanga Rocks, Zinkwazi Beach, Elysium and La Mercy.