Durban - Shauwn and S’bu Mpisane would like to polish and care for their nine luxury vehicles seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit last week, rather than pay storage fees of at least R1 000 a vehicle, every day.
In an urgent application before the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday, they also cited insecure storage facilities as a reason and requested that Trevor White be removed as the curator in the proceedings.
The matter was heard by Acting Judge Nkosinathi Chili on Friday, while Shauwn Mpisane’s bail application was under way in the Commercial Crime Court in Durban following charges that she had used fraudulent documents to secure contracts, valued at R140 million, from the Department of Public Works.
Judge Chili was the same judge who had granted an order which allowed property, to the value of R140m, belonging to the Mpisanes and their companies to be placed under restraint.
In court papers Shauwn argued that she would have to pay for moving the vehicles and that the storage costs would deplete “my estate and that of my family rapidly”.
“It is not fair that I should be burdened with these costs when I have plenty of space at home to store the vehicles safely.”
Shauwn said it would not be in her or her family’s interest to dispose of any assets simply to frustrate the legal processes which were under way.
She listed several reasons why the seizure of the cars infringed on her constitutional rights, including that she was deprived of their use and enjoyment, that they were stored in a place “where it is not secured and protected against risk and weather elements”.
She said in the current storage place “its value will depreciate fast to my prejudice”.
She said the cars had been kept in lock-up garages at her home and she had a gardener who washed and cleaned them regularly to ensure that they preserved their value and did not rust.
She said she had offered for the cars to remain in her garage and for the curator to have his own security guard them, but the offer had been rejected.
Some of the reasons she provided for the removal of White as the curator was that he had harassed her, that he had leaked information to the media and that conversations held in private had found their way into a newspaper.
She accused him of unprofessional conduct and said she did not want to have any dealings with him as a curator.
White was eager to remove her vehicles “to show off the power that he had over us and on our property”, she said.
Mpisane said White was aware that the cars were freehold and he could “easily dispose of them” before the trial was concluded, especially since he stood to make millions from it. She said she was not prepared to take that risk.
“If the allegation is that there are assets to the value of R140m, a curator can get 7 percent or 10 percent of that amount,” she said. “That is about R14m that he stands to get. It is for that reason that the curator in this case is excited about the removal of these cars.”
In the court papers, the Mpisanes argued that the value of the property restrained far exceeded the amount of the alleged benefit that Shauwn had gained and was therefore “disproportionate and unreasonable”. “At best for the applicant, property to the value of R51 186 267,80 could be restrained, although this is not conceded.”
NPA spokeswoman Natasha Ramkissoon said the prosecuting authority had until Thursday to file a response to the Mpisanes who would then have until the following Tuesday to file a response before a date would be set for the matter to be heard.