File photo: Sbu and Shauwn Mpisane
File photo: Sbu and Shauwn Mpisane
Durban06022013. Mpisanes cars seized.
Durban06022013. Mpisanes cars seized.
Durban06022013. Mpisanes cars seized.
Durban06022013. Mpisanes cars seized.

Durban - S’bu and Shauwn Mpisane are now a two-car family with only one BMW and one Range Rover after the Asset Forfeiture Unit seized their fleet of luxury cars in a dawn operation at their Addison Drive, La Lucia, home on Wednesday.

One by one the luxury cars – a Ferrari, two Rolls-Royces, two Porsches, a Maserati, a Hummer and a Dodge Ram – were carefully driven out of the couple’s mirror-door, showroom-like garage and either lined up to be hoisted on to flat-bed trucks or driven to a warehouse under the care of Ian Wyles Auctioneers.

The operation drew a crowd of neighbours and motorists, some of them hooting, who slowed down to see what was happening.

“Are they taking their cars again?” one shouted out of his window in a reference to a similar seizure made by Sars a few years ago.

The seizure, authorised by Pietermaritzburg High Court acting Judge Nkosinathi Chili, follows an intensive investigation by the Hawks into allegations that Shauwn Mpisane, as the sole member of Zikhulise Cleaning Maintenance and Transport cc, submitted false documents to obtain Construction Industry Development Board gradings. These were used to obtain tenders from the Department of Public Works valued at more than R140 million.

The court order authorises the restraint of property to that value, including their houses, 62 vehicles, household goods and money in their bank accounts. If they are convicted, it can be confiscated by the state.

While the order was granted secretly “in chambers” last week, the couple got wind of it and S’bu was waiting, freshly showered, at their monogrammed gate to greet Asset Forfeiture Unit investigators, who arrived with armed police, at 6am.

Shauwn left for work soon afterwards. S’bu stayed until the towing began.

The home consists of two sea-view properties which have been merged as one, with one half as the “garage” for the vehicles.

Investigators who went inside to draw up an inventory of assets said that there were rows upon rows of women’s shoes spread over two rooms and “more television sets than (in) Dion Wired”.

Court-appointed curator Trevor White – who is tasked with finding all of their known assets, restraining them and ensuring they are kept safe – confirmed that only the luxury cars were seized on Wednesday and the couple had been left with two.

They can continue to live in their home and use their household goods, but they cannot dispose of them. Vehicles used in the two businesses, Zikhulise Cleaning and Zikhulise Auto Restorers cc, would not be seized so business could continue.

Asset Forfeiture Unit investigator Akbar Ally, who conducted an investigation into their assets, said the couple, married in community of property, had two bonds on the R20m Addison Drive property, one for R5.2m and another of R7m in favour of Sars. Shauwn also owns another property in Cowie’s Hill, worth R1.4m. This property was also substantially bonded.

Ally said most of the luxury vehicles were “freehold” with no money owing on them. The Ferrari, he said, was worth about R1.8m, the two Rolls-Royce Phantoms were worth R6m and R4.8m, a Porshe Cayenne was worth R860 000, a Maserati R950 000 and two Lamborghinis (which have recently been sold) about R2.2m each.

The Mercury understands that some of the cars could not be started because they had flat batteries, and many of them were not insured because they were not driven regularly. The Mpisanes also have two armour-plated BMWs and two Hummers.

Although it was recently reported that S’bu had become the “face of Bentley” in the province, it is understood this car was on loan as a “test” and he has not bought it.

The order also covers a property in Briardene owned by Zikhulise Cleaning and the Mpisanes’ interests in Zikhulise Auto Restorers.

Akbar estimated the value of assets restrained by the order to be about R50m, and White has been tasked with identifying further assets.

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The Mercury