Mpisane on a ‘fishing expedition’

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iol news pic s'bu and shauwn mpisane INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File picture: Businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane. Photo: Bongani Mbatha

Tax-fraud accused Shauwn Mpisane was attempting to “tie the State up in knots” by wanting it to disclose its entire case against her before her trial began, prosecutor Meera Naidu told the Durban Regional Court.

Businesswoman Mpisane and her close corporation – Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport – are facing 183 charges of tax fraud.

The trial was set down to begin before regional magistrate Blessing Msani this week, but has yet to get under way because Mpisane, through her counsel, Wim Trengove, launched an application seeking to compel the State to provide “further particulars” – the who, what, where and when – of the charges.

Msani said he would rule on this application on Wednesday

Trengove hinted that should the magistrate find against his client, this would not be the end of the matter, but “a recipe for disaster”.

“The State has to stick to its pleaded case. How do we apply this if the charge sheet does not tell us what the case is?

“The State says the information we want is in the docket.

“We say it is not. You cannot run a fraud case on this basis. And what will a court do if this should go on appeal at the end of the case?”

Naidu submitted that the defence had all the information it required – including the docket contained in seven box files and all witness statements – to prepare for trial. This was evidenced by the detail Trengove had given about the case in his submissions, she said.

“To suggest that the charge sheet is deficient is not on. The accused must have some ulterior motive, possibly wanting to delay the trial or embarking on a fishing expedition.

“They want absolute detail of particulars which they are not entitled to.”

Naidu said knowing that the State was bound by its responses to requests for further particulars, Mpisane was trying to tie the case up in knots before the hearing and to evaluate the evidence.

Mpisane, who is married to former metro policeman S’bu Mpisane, was arrested last year and has been presented with three charge sheets.

The final one is before the court and alleges that she caused false invoices to be generated that showed payments purportedly made by her business to other companies, to reduce her profit and her tax liability by about R5 million.

She is also accused of submitting false VAT returns, with a prejudice to Sars of about R4.7m.

While the public gallery was packed again yesterday, suspended police commissioner Bheki Cele was not present.

Cele, who has strong family ties with Mpisane, attended court on Monday to give the businesswoman his “moral support”.

His presence was labelled “utterly inappropriate” by Paul Hoffman of the Institute of Accountability in Southern Africa. - The Mercury

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