Update: Mpisanes v taxman

Game goes into extra time.

In a bid to stave off confiscation of their assets by SARS in lieu of a missing R203 million, notorious Durban tenderprenuers Sbu and Shauwn Mpisane are trying to have their case re-opened before the tax court.

The Mpisanes, who are reputed to have been major financial backers of Jacob Zuma, agreed to pay the sum in a 2014 court settlement. But when nothing was forthcoming, the couple’s main company for securing lucrative state tenders, Zikhulise Cleaning and Maintenance CC – which notched up assets of more than R1 billion over the years – was placed in provisional liquidation in 2017 by the High Court in Pretoria at the request of SARS.

The Mpisanes’ assets were initially attached by the state on the instruction of SARS in November 2016 (see nose211).

The back-tax payment was largely the result of a settlement reached with SARS in the course of a Special Tax Court hearing in 2014 in Umhlanga, Durban.

At the time the  deal was widely seen as a quid pro quo for the tax authorities and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) which had effectively sabotaged various criminal cases against the Mpisanes and Zikhulise.

The couple were facing 183 separate charges of fraud, corruption, forgery and defeating the ends of justice across three separate court trials in Durban, when the then-boss of the NPA, Mxolisi Nxasana, summarily bombed the cases, stating that the prosecutor was guilty of serious misconduct, thus fatally compromising the prosecution.

He also said that the Mpisanes could not be tried for the same offences again. Two years later, the misconduct allegations against the prosecutor were found to have been false (see nose208). [Echoes of another high-profile case currently before the Durban courts? – Ed.]

The Mpisanes’ renewed court application – as usual, a secretive affair – was heard in March in Durban. According to a document seen by Noseweek the Mpisanes were appealing the 2014 settlement decision.

SARS, in turn, has subpoenaed witnesses it used in the previous court hearing to prove that the Mpisanes deliberately tried to fool the taxman.

Noseweek has since been informed that all matters pertaining to the Mpisanes have been moved out of KZN and are now being handled by the “more ruthless” – and less politically compromised – Pretoria-based Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit.

The winds of change may finally be catching up with the Mpisanes who, by using their Zuma connections, cornered massive state contracts and ducked and dived from the taxman for a decade.

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