Fri Sep 22 09:58:38 SAST 2017

Mpisane company faces liquidation

By Loyiso Sidimba | 2017-09-12 11:50:28.0

One of the companies owned by high-flying Durban businesswoman Shawn Mpisane faces liquidation over a multimillion-rand tax bill.

"Interested parties" have been given until next week to state why the company, Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport, should not be placed under final liquidation.

On August 22, North Gauteng High Court Judge Natvarlal Ranchod placed the company under provisional liquidation following an application by SARS commissioner Tom Moyane. The taxman had asked the court to wind up Zikhulise over its tax bill.

Mpisane's company owes SARS R204-million, according to papers filed in the North Gauteng High Court.

SARS has held onto Mpisane's assets, which include 128 cars and 10 properties, including a multimillion-rand La Lucia mansion.

Mpisane also lost her bid to have her company placed under business rescue. Ranchod ordered Mpisane to pay the costs of the part of the business-rescue application she later withdrew.

According to a lawyer involved in commercial litigation, entities and individuals owed by a company can ask a court to liquidate a business if it cannot pay its debt. A liquidated business cannot operate.

Despite their running battles with SARS, it has been business as usual for the cash-flush couple. In April, their low-cost housing project developed in a school in Umlazi, south of Durban, was halted by the education department.

The project, built on the school's sport field at Inselele Lower Primary School in H-Section, Umlazi, caused consternation in the community, with allegations that the principal, Dudu Makhanya, had colluded with the Mpisanes and the municipality to allow building on the school premises. The development has been halted pending a departmental investigation.

During the hearing of the liquidation matter in June, SARS said there was enough evidence to support its bid to wind up the company and not attempt business rescue.

Earlier this year, the Durban High Court extended the preservation order that was originally granted in SARS' favour in November.

The couple have been embroiled in several court cases involving unpaid taxes. The winding down of Zikhulise is not the first time one of Mpisane's companies has been provisionally liquidated.

In 2013, Ukhozi, which built RDP houses, was provisionally liquidated after SARS claimed it owed over R9-million in unpaid taxes.

The Mpisanes have scored tenders worth millions of rands in KwaZulu-Natal.

In 2014, the National Prosecuting Authority controversially dropped fraud and tax-evasion charges against Mpisane and her company.

Mpisane and Zikhulise were facing more than 100 tax fraud charges involving R4.7-million. Prosecutors alleged Mpisane used forged invoices to make fraudulent misrepresentations about their annual financial statements and income tax returns.

Mpisane declined to comment yesterday. - Additional reporting by Yasantha Naidoo