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Suspended national police commissioner Bheki Cele was slated on Monday for attending the court case of his “foster daughter”, wealthy businesswoman and tax fraud accused Shauwn Mpisane.
Mpisane – who has strong family ties with Cele – pulled in the big guns for what was to be day one of her trial on R5-million tax fraud charges.
As she stood in the dock of a Durban regional court in her trademark towering heels and designer gear, a smartly dressed Cele – her “father figure” – sat behind her in the public gallery.
He arrived alone and without ceremony. He acknowledged reporters but then spoke to no-one and did not return after the lunch adjournment.
But Paul Hoffman of the Institute of Accountability in Southern Africa slammed his presence in the courtroom as “utterly inappropriate”.
“It’s right up there with jailed former police commissioner Jackie Selebi when he said of Glen Agliotti ‘he’s my friend… finished and klaar’. And look at where Selebi is now.
“He is violating all the principles expected of him by the constitution. That he maintain high standards and ethics, that he be objective and accountable… these principles are totally foreign to the way he behaves.”
The DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard said: “One would have thought he was in sufficient trouble. One would not expect someone in his position to do this.
“It could be seen as putting pressure on the case. It is most inappropriate. He has no boundaries and does not understand the impact of what he does sometimes.”
Cele’s spokesman Vuyo Mkhize, said he had gone to court to give Mpisane moral support.
“Her father, now deceased, was his best friend. He promised to look after her. He was in town and he took the opportunity. He considers her his foster daughter.
“Those who say he should not have, have no understanding of the concept of innocent until proven guilty. You do not abandon people just because they are charged.
“He is, and has always been, sensitive to the perception created by association with people found to have digressed the law.”
Mpisane’s other “big gun” was respected advocate Wim Trengove, SC, who on Monday launched a pre-trial application attempting to persuade magistrate Blessing Msani to compel the State to disclose more details of its case against her so that she can properly prepare for trial.
It was revealed at the start of proceedings on Monday that the State had compiled a new charge sheet in which Mpisane and her close corporation Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport, are facing 118 charges of fraud and one of contravening the close corporations act.
The act disqualifies someone from running a business if he or she has been convicted previously of fraud. - The Mercury