Mpisanes lose wheels again

Gl­itzy cou­ple have had their as­sets seized and it is un­clear if they will host their an­nual New Year’s Eve do

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­

Nor­mally at this time of year, Dur­ban’s blingest cou­ple, ten­der­preneurs Shauwn and S’bu Mpisane, are busy putting the fin­ish­ing touches on plans for their New Year’s Eve party, one of the high­lights on the city’s so­cial cal­en­dar for the well-heeled and po­lit­i­cally con­nected.

But those who want to see Shauwn strut­ting her stuff on New Year’s Eve in skimpy de­signer-la­bel gear at her pala­tial home in posh Umh­langa Ridge, must know that the cou­ple have big­ger fish to fry.

This year the cou­ple, whose Zikhulise group of com­pa­nies have turned over bil­lions of rands in city and pro­vin­cial govern­ment ten­ders, are busy fight­ing for their sur­vival.

They are also fight­ing for the re­turn of their fleet of lux­ury cars – which in­clude a set of match­ing Rolls-Royces worth R17 mil­lion to­gether – seized from their man­sion by SA Rev­enue Ser­vice (Sars) of­fi­cials last week.

It is not clear at this stage which of their as­sets were seized, but a list of their pos­ses­sions which City Press has ob­tained re­veals that apart from their com­pa­nies, the cou­ple own a fleet of nearly 130 ve­hi­cles.

Be­sides their match­ing Rolls-Royces, they also have a Dodge Ram, Mercedes X222, Fer­rari 612 Scagli­etti, a McLaren MP4-12C and an As­ton Martin Rapide. Other cars in­clude a Rolls-Royce Ghost, a Rolls-Royce Phan­tom, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, a Porsche Panam­era, a Hum­mer and a Maserati, all of which were seized by Sars and re­turned af­ter Mpisane’s ac­quit­tal from tax fraud charges in Fe­bru­ary 2014.

The cou­ple also own 10 res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial prop­er­ties, which in­clude their Umh­langa home, busi­ness prop­er­ties in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and a num­ber of farms.

While Sars has re­fused to com­ment on the lat­est round of seizures against the cou­ple and their em­pire, quot­ing the need to main­tain con­fi­den­tial­ity in the af­fairs of tax­pay­ers, sources close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion told City Press that the seizures were based on two High Court preser­va­tion orders.

Sars, the source said, was in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­leged tax eva­sion by the five com­pa­nies owned by the cou­ple, and their Sbusha Trust dur­ing the 2014/15 fi­nan­cial year, and had sought preser­va­tion orders against them last month in the high courts in Dur­ban and Pre­to­ria.

The orders, which the source says the Mpisanes have yet to op­pose, are aimed at pre­vent­ing them from sell­ing or giv­ing away their cars or prop­erty, or re­mov­ing them be­fore the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into them – which could re­sult in fresh crim­i­nal charges – is com­plete.

The com­pa­nies tar­geted, he said, are Zikhulise Clean­ing Main­te­nance and Trans­port CC, the cou­ple’s con­struc­tion com­pany, Zikhulise Auto Re­stor­ers CC, In­yanga Trad­ing 559 (Pty) Ltd, Zikhulise Auto Re­cov­er­ies (Pty) (Ltd) and the Royal Ea­gles Foot­ball Club, which they bought two years ago.

An or­der was also se­cured against Madoda Mbeje, one of the trustees of the Sbusha Trust.

“There is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that there were acts of tax eva­sion car­ried out re­gard­ing VAT and other as­pects of their tax pro­file,” the in­sider said.

“The or­der was se­cured to en­sure there was no at­tempt to get rid of as­sets, but some had been re­moved by the time our cu­ra­tion team ar­rived on site last week.”

The cou­ple’s trou­bles with the tax­man are noth­ing new. In 2014, Shauwn walked free af­ter the state with­drew more than 110 counts of tax fraud which had been lodged against her and Zikhulise Clean­ing for al­legedly in­flat­ing their VAT ex­pen­di­ture by more than R4.7 mil­lion dur­ing the 2007 tax year.

The state had claimed that she had sub­mit­ted fraud­u­lent in­come tax state­ments for that year to Sars and had fal­si­fied her VAT re­turns for the 2009/2010 tax year.

The charges were with­drawn af­ter Mpisane’s le­gal team al­leged that the pros­e­cu­tor in the case had acted un­law­fully in bring­ing the charges against them. The pros­e­cu­tor, how­ever, was cleared by a sub­se­quent in­ves­ti­ga­tion, al­though the National Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity has stated that it will not re­open the case against Mpisane.

The cou­ple this week failed to re­spond to calls and SMS mes­sages from City Press about the seizures, which Sars spokesper­son Luther Le­belo de­clined to com­ment on.

Last year the cou­ple chose to usher in 2016 on their farm rather than host a gl­itzy bash. This year, it’s not clear whether their an­nual party, one of Dur­ban’s most talked about events, will go ahead.


HIS AND HERS The Mpisanes take a pic­ture with the two Rolls-Royces they bought each other dur­ing their yearend party at their house in La Lu­cia, north of Dur­ban


STRIKE A POSE Shauwn and her close friend Bheki Cele (left) at the 2013 New Year’s Eve party. The Mpisanes at the 2015 PSL Awards at the Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Jo­han­nes­burg

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