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Durban - Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) agents swooped on the home of La Lucia business couple Shauwn and S’bu Mpisane on Wednesday morning to seize R140 million in assets, including the couple’s luxury home and a fleet of 25 cars.
They arrived at the luxury premises at 6am, with a seizure order obtained after almost two years of investigation, according to a source.
It is alleged the wealthy businesswoman’s company was awarded more than R140m in government tenders after supplying false information to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).
The board, a Schedule 3A public entity, was established by law in 2000 to promote a regulatory and developmental framework that builds the construction delivery capability for South Africa’s social and economic growth.
It is underpinned by consistent and ethical procurement practices.
The source said investigations revealed that the Mpisanes had allegedly submitted fraudulent information to the CIDB in a bid to get their construction business higher ratings.
The alleged aim was to secure massive government tenders.
“The high ratings are an indication that the business can handle large contracts.
“The bigger the job, the higher the value of the tender.”
It has been alleged that after the Mpisanes’ rating was fraudulently upgraded, they received R140m in government tenders.
Some of the documents submitted to the CIDB included alleged false financial statements.
They also allegedly misled the CIDB to believe they had large numbers of artisans and builders in their employ.
Anti-corruption officials, with curator Trevor White of PwC and auctioneer Ian Wyles, were accompanied by heavily-armed private security guards and the police task force.
The guards surrounded all entry and exit points on the property. Inside the yard, six heavily-armed guards, hired by the Mpisanes, were spotted.
White served the asset forfeiture order for R140m on Shauwn Mpisane.
Her husband, S’bu, and their attorney, Themba Majoli, were present.
From around 6.30am, White was tasked with evaluating the Mpisane assets, including their plush home which is said to be valued at more than R80m, and a fleet of at least 25 vehicles, estimated at R25m.
The cars included Mercedes-
Benzes, two Porsches and two Maseratis. Three of the couple’s other exotic cars, including two Lamborghinis, were not at the house.
But, this morning, the Mpisanes were arguing to keep their cars. Wyles is expected to hold the cars. By 11am, the first of the vehicles, a blue BMW, had been loaded on car carriers which had been on standby.
The source said the delay was due to lengthy negotiations with the Mpisanes.
As the drama played out on Wednesday morning, Shauwn questioned the action, saying her company had already carried out the construction work.
“Are they now expecting me to go and demolish the schools, clinics and houses built by my company because they feel I should never have been tasked with building them in the first place?
“I’m a service provider and carried out the work requested by my clients – beyond the standards expected. It does not make sense to say that I should not have received those projects and therefore the money needs to be recovered by seizing my personal property.
“Should I now go and recover my losses for all the work done by demolishing those projects in return? That wouldn’t make sense,” the businesswoman told the Daily News.
She has consistently maintained her innocence in the face of an ongoing tussle with the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and court action over allegations of tax evasion. The trial is expected to resume in February.
While there have been questions on the projects given to her company, Zikhulise Cleaning & Transpor, amid claims of poor workmanship, the businesswoman has received the thumbs-up from those within the sector as well as government officials – and has challenged her critics to provide proof of poor work.
Among those who have praised her work are former city manager Mike Sutcliffe, current city manager S’bu Sithole, KZN Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay, and housing construction oversight body, the National Home Builder Registration Council.
Despite this, the couple continue to draw attention with opposition groups questioning the number of housing projects being awarded to Zikhulise.
A source within the industry who defended the work done by the Mpisane company went as far as saying that construction companies had tried to discredit her because she was not part of a cartel which fixed prices.
“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.
“Shauwn is a businesswoman who went in with her own prices, which are lower and her work was better, the club didn’t like that, and many tried to discredit her as a result,” added the source.