Round one to tycoon
In what might be a landmark ruling, the Pretoria High Court yesterday granted an urgent application for a court order that the SA Revenue Service give a multimillionaire Durban businesswoman a tax clearance certificate.
The order, which sets a precedent, was awarded to Shauwn Mpisane by acting judge Gregory Wright.
It forces SARS to validate a tax clearance certificate for Mpisane's company - Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport CC - which has earned millions of rands in tenders awarded by the eThekwini metro and the KwaZulu-Natal government.
The certificate was declared invalid by SARS in March after Mpisane was declared non-tax-compliant.
Mpisane is the wife of controversial former Durban metro policeman Sbu Mpisane. The former policeman, who now works for his wife, was investigated by the DA three years ago after questions arose about how he could afford a Lamborghini on a R15000-a-month police officer's salary.
Shauwn Mpisane will next month stand trial on multiple charges relating to tax evasion and fraud. The charges follow investigations by both SARS and the police into her alleged failure to file tax returns amounting to R6.5-million and allegedly filing fraudulent tax invoices and lowering her taxable income by R16-million. She also faces charges of contravening the Close Corporations Act by managing a business despite being convicted for tax fraud in 2005.
In February, Mpisane took the eThekwini municipality to court for its cancellation of a tender her company had won for the construction of 2114 low-cost houses in Umlazi, near Durban.
Before that case was adjourned indefinitely, the city had argued that the R17-million contract was flawed because procurement processes had not been followed.
Yesterday's court order stems from Mpisane's insistence that she needed the tax certificate so that the municipality could pay her.
Mpisane's lawyers argued that she had not been given enough time to respond before the certificate was declared invalid.
Arguing that Mpisane was not tax-compliant, SARS advocate Etienne Coetzee said certificates were refused if taxes were outstanding.
Coetzee, who revealed that the tenders were withdrawn for reasons other than the invalid certificate, said taxpayers could not be allowed to acquire tenders but not be expected to pay taxes.
Dismissing Coetzee's arguments, Judge Wright said the criminal charges had nothing to do with the withdrawal of the tax clearance certificate.
"The applicant needs the certificate to get payment. That is her urgency. She was given no option of what to do to prevent this."