Durban - Durban businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane danced in the dock after she was acquitted of more than 100 counts of tax fraud.
However, after the trial adjourned, NPA spokesman Nathi Ncube said that had it not been for the irregularities, a successful prosecution would have been possible.
The NPA also confirmed that the Pinetown charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice would be withdrawn against Mpisane as they related to the tax fraud matter. She had been accused of interfering with a State witness.
Prosecutor Arno Rossouw told the Durban Regional Court that the charges against Mpisane and Zikhulise Cleaning had been withdrawn by the National Director of Public Prosecutions, in terms of Section 6 (b) of the Criminal Procedure Act. In terms of this the court is instructed to acquit the accused.
The National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana, was present in the court.
Mpisane had been accused of inflating the invoices of her business – Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance, and Transport CC – by almost R5 million to cut her tax bill.
Magistrate Blessing Msani was also asked by Mpisane’s lawyer – senior advocate Rafiq Bhana – to place on record that his clients had been acquitted of the charges.
“This has been one of the most gruelling trials I’ve come across. Unfortunately, it’s coming to this end. Both accused are acquitted in respect of all the charges,” said Msani.
NPA spokesman, Nathi Ncube, said the decision had been taken after the NDPP had deliberated the matter with his deputies and special advisers.
“The NDPP (National Director of Public Prosecution) felt that due to the irregularities in the handling of the prosecution, the trial had to be stopped because the accused would be prejudiced,” said Ncube.
Speaking after her acquittal, Mpisane said she had been silent for three years and felt it was now time to say something.
“My husband and I are very delighted about what has happened today. I would like to compliment the new National Director of Public Prosecution for taking the right decision,” she said
“There’s the expression that justice delayed is justice denied. We’ve been here for three years and felt the trial was delayed and we were being denied justice.”
She criticised the original prosecutor for suppressing evidence and felt she had made a mockery of the justice system.
“I am (a law) abiding citizen. For someone who has paid about R150 million to the tax man for personal and income tax, it’s not fair to be dragged down like this just for R4.7 million, she said.
She thanked her husband, S’bu, for always being there for her and being her big shoulder to cry on, and her family and staff for their support. She also thanked her legal team consisting of advocates Jimmy Howse and Rafiq Bhana SC, as well as her attorneys, Phila Magwaza and Shaukat Karim.
Mpisane said that now she just wanted peace and closure on this chapter.
“I want to carry on with what I do best and that is be a wife, mother and businesswoman. I’m not a politician. I’m not a public figure. Please can I be given some breathing space now.”
Earlier this month, the State also withdrew more than 50 charges of fraud, forgery and uttering of a forged document against Mpisane.
The State dropped fraud and corruption charges against her in the Durban Commercial Crime Court on January 15, because a forensic investigation could not be finished on time, the National Prosecuting Authority said at the time.
In that matter, Mpisane was accused of submitting forged documents to obtain Construction Industry Development Board gradings, which were then used to win five public works department tenders worth R140 million.
At the time, Mpisane was expecting R70 million in restrained assets being returned, along with a refund of the R100 000 bail granted after her arrest last year in wake of the fraud charges.
Last month, Mpisane’s lawyers made representations to Nxasana, accusing the prosecution of suppressing evidence.
The lead prosecutor in the Pinetown and Durban cases was removed.