The SA Revenue Service (Sars) was persisting with its criminal case against businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane, handing her a final charge sheet on Wednesday detailing 173 charges of fraud, forgery and uttering involving R4.7 million, which she will have to answer to at a trial next year.
Making a trendy designer fashion statement in a nautical/preppy dress – with her initials embroidered on the tie and shirt cuffs – and her trademark towering heels and hat, Mpisane was in high spirits when she made a brief appearance in the Durban Regional Court yesterday.
Outside court, she had a light-hearted conversation with the prosecutor, advocate Meera Naidu.
Her husband, former metro policeman-turned billionaire S’bu Mpisane, was “caught” by some journalists having a push-ups competition with a friend while waiting for the lift near the 12th-floor courtroom.
Their high spirits were in spite of the State increasing the number of charges against Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport CC, as accused number one represented by Shauwn Mpisane, and Mpisane herself as accused number two, from a provisional 59 to 173, with the amount involved up from R2.5m to R4.7m.
The charges relate to the period of April 2009 to March 2010 when, according to the preamble to the charges, she instructed her bookkeeper, Kishal Reddy, to submit VAT returns to Sars.
It is alleged that Reddy provided auditor Trevor John Dalton with copies of tax invoices from various clients in support of cash payments for services.
These were submitted to Sars and were subsequently found to be false, it is alleged.
The first seven tax fraud charges (with tax evasion as an alternative) relate to the incorrect declaration of VAT, with a prejudice to Sars of R4.7m. The balance of the fraud and forgery charges relate to the presentation of the forged tax invoices with a potential prejudice of R1.2m.
Mpisane faces another charge for running her close corporation when, because of a previous conviction for tax fraud in 2005, she was disqualified from doing so.
The main changes to the charge sheet appear to be a result of further information given to investigators by Reddy who, in July this year, pleaded guilty in the Durban Magistrate’s Court to two charges of forgery and contravening the VAT Act.
He was fined R30 000 or six months imprisonment.
In his written plea, Reddy alleged that Mpisane had paid an employee of a Durban printing firm to generate the forged invoices for submission to Sars.
Reddy – who is expected to be the main witness in the trial – said Mpisane had briefed him that his job was to save her money and “not for me to pay out money to Sars”.
Apart from the final charge sheet, Mpisane was also given the contents of the police docket yesterday, including all statements, to prepare for trial.
The matter was adjourned until February 6, when a trial date will be set.