S’bu Mpisane to be investigated


Forensic report calls for probe of couple’s eThekwini contracts
Mar 20, 2011 12:00 AM | By BONGANI MTHETHWA

A forensic report into alleged financial irregularities and tender fraud has called for the eThekwini municipality to investigate contracts awarded to Sibusiso Mpisane and his wife, Shawn.

The socialite couple’s Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport has been awarded more than R200-million in municipal and provincial government tenders since 2007.

Last year, the company was accused by the National Home Builders’ Registration Council and provincial government of building poor-quality homes in Umlazi, Durban.

The tender was awarded by the municipality. The couple claimed there was “an agenda to vilify us as a company and a family at all costs, at every turn”.

The forensic report, compiled by auditors Ngubane & Company, recommended that an investigation be launched into the awarding of tenders to the Mpisanes’ company and 34 other contractors.

The report, which has been closely guarded by the municipality, investigated R3.5-billion worth of contracts awarded by the municipality over 10 years.

It recommended that disciplinary and criminal charges be brought against municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe, his deputy in charge of procurement, Derek Naidoo, housing chief Coughlan Pather and procurement chief Themba Shezi.

Provincial co-operative governance MEC Nomusa Dube this week announced that the auditing firm Manase & Associates had been appointed to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration in the municipality. Irregularities in the awarding of tenders are central to the investigation.

Also this week, the head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), Willie Hofmeyr, made a presentation to the municipality’s executive committee, offering the unit’s services to investigate fraud and corruption.

The unit is already investigating housing tender irregularities.

Earlier this month, the SIU launched a probe into a R37-million housing project in Lamontville, Durban.

On Friday, spokesman Marika Miller said that KwaZulu-Natal’s human settlements MEC, Maggie Govender, had asked the unit to investigate the project.

“The SIU has been asked to look into payments from the provincial department to the municipality,” said Miller.

Although the project was started in July 2007, the SIU found that, by September last year, only 470 of 920 units had been completed – this while the project had officially been signed off as completed.

Ethekwini municipal spokesman Thabo Mofokeng declined to comment.

Opposition parties have welcomed the probes.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader Tex Collins said: “It’s brilliant. It’s been a long time coming. Once and for all, we’ll get to the bottom of what ails our city.

“Those officials and those politicians who are guilty must face the law … we cannot run a successful city unless we root out corruption and maladministration.”

Inkatha Freedom Party caucus leader Mdu Nkosi said: “We’ve been calling for these investigations for a long time. There is too much corruption in housing.”


Love me tenders…
It’s party time for high-rolling former cop and his wife, who coined it with questionable government contracts

A couple who made millions from building low-cost government houses – with some of the projects now under investigation – are splashing out R1-million to renew their wedding vows.

Durban’s Sibusiso Mpisane and his wife, Shawn, who over the years have been investigated by the disbanded Scorpions and the Special Investigating Unit, this week revealed that money was no object for their five-day bash to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary and 20 years of being together.

Sibusiso will also celebrate his 40th birthday at the party.

The couple plan to light fireworks on Wednesday in Lamontville, a township south of Durban. This will be followed by traditional ceremonies at their R15-million mansion in La Lucia, in the northern suburbs.

The main party will be attended by a host of celebrities and politicians and will be held at the five-star Fairmont Hotel & Resort in Zimbali next Sunday.

The various traditional cere-monies will include “slaughtering of cows and goats”.

On Thursday, Sibusiso, who was a policeman until recently, said he could not “divulge the amount” they were spending. However, conservative calculations and people close to the couple estimated the bill at a minimum of R1-million.

Sibusiso said: “Planning (the event) has taken three months … and different companies are involved in implementing it.”

The entertainment on Sunday will include Grammy award-winning group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Kora award winner Thandiswa and SA Music Award winner Judith Sepuma.

The more than 200 guests will also be entertained by Stimela, the Jazel Brothers and DJs Muntu and Happygal.

Other details of the “Egyptian royalty-theme party” at the Fairmont Hotel are a closely guarded secret.

Even the menu is under wraps. “It’s the element of surprise,” said Sibusiso.

But the couple were prepared to reveal they would be wearing Egyptian-style outfits identical to those worn by pharaohs. “We are a couple who like class,” he said.

Four years ago, shortly after spending R12-million on their three-storey La Lucia mansion, the Mpisanes bought an adjoining property for R3.5-million.

They flattened the house on the property and built a garage for their luxury cars, which include an Aston Martin, a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, a Porsche Turbo, a Maserati Pininfarina and a BMW 750i.

In March last year, the SA Revenue Service attached the couple’s Rolls-Royce Phantom convertible, valued at around R7-million, and two Lamborghinis – one worth R4.5-million and the other R5-million.

Through their businesses, the couple allegedly owed about R50-million in back-taxes, but the matter was later settled and the cars were returned.

SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay said: “The Income Tax Act places a specific obligation on SARS to treat the affairs of all taxpayers confidentially.”

Sibusiso could not be reached for comment on this matter.

Once labelled a “fugitive state witness”, he has also been the subject of a preliminary probe by the now defunct Scorpions after disappearing for a year and failing to testify in a murder case against a notorious taxi boss, Mandla Gcaba, and his brother.

About 13 years ago, the former constable with the eThekwini Metro Police Dog Unit was a key state witness in the case against the wealthy Gcaba brothers, who were allegedly responsible for a shooting outside the High Court in Durban. Three people had died and six had been wounded by the time the guns fell silent.

With no other evidence linking the Gcabas to the shooting, Sibusiso’s disappearance ahead of their trial virtually secured their acquittal.

Another investigation into Sibusiso’s lifestyle was launched three years ago after the Democratic Alliance demanded a probe into how a constable, who earned R15000 a month, could afford to own a Lamborghini, which he often drove to work, and the La Lucia mansion.

“I do a lot of things other than being a policeman,” Sibusiso said at the time.

He recently said: “Some people were shocked that I drove a Lamborghini while I was a policeman. They thought because I’m black, I must have made my bucks illegally.”

Sibusiso resigned from the police after the furore and joined his wife, who owns Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport. The company had by then secured millions of rands’ worth of tenders from the eThekwini municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal government.

Recently, Sibusiso was the chief lobola negotiator for police commissioner General Bheki Cele.

The police chief and President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse, attended the Mpisanes’ New Year’s Eve party in 2009.

This week, Sibusiso said he had a secret gift “which will be unveiled on the day” for his wife, who is the daughter of the late Florence Mkhize, a former eThekwini councillor.


January 20 2010 at 07:05am
The mystery of Mpisane millions

By Wendy Jasson da Costa

Just three weeks after receiving R30-million from the eThekwini municipality, high-flying Durban couple S’bu and Shawn Mpisane have halted the completion of RDP housing projects in Umlazi, apparently because they have no money to continue the work.

The R30m paid in December was part of a series of electronic payments amounting to about R219 million, which the company received from eThekwini last year.

The last payment of R4 785 720 was made on December 14, two weeks before their A-list, bling party on New Year’s Eve.

That’s when the big-spending former metro officer and his politically connected wife dazzled friends at their luxurious La Lucia home.

Top-end whiskies and champagne flowed, while they splurged on special thrones and showed off their new Rolls-Royce. Guests included national police commissioner Bheki Cele.

While Shawn Mpisane, daughter of the late ANC local councillor Dumazile Flora Mkhize, is the one who was granted the Umlazi housing contract, it is her husband, Wiseman Sibusiso (S’bu), who has been the focus of media attention.

While working as a metro police constable, with a salary of less than R15 000 a month, Mpisane raised eyebrows by arriving at work in a Lamborghini and living in a R17 million mansion.

This week, he made headlines of a different kind when The Mercury’s news editor, Philani Makhanya, laid a complaint of intimidation against him. The alleged intimidation came after Mpisane became aware The Mercury was investigating his affairs.

On Monday, workers of Shawn Mpisane’s Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport company, as well as those employed by sub-contractors, in Umlazi, were told to go home because the company allegedly had no money to continue their work.

An estimated 1 300 people, many from Umlazi, and their families have been affected, according to Ward 79 councillor Sthenjwa Nyawose.

Mpisane had told him her company had received no money from the municipality since October.

Despite repeated attempts to interview Shawn Mpisane, she failed to return calls to The Mercury as promised.

As a result of the job and housing uncertainty, Nyawose described the situation in the township as “volatile but calm”.

“We are very angry, the councillors of Umlazi are fuming,” he said. “As we speak, the project is not going on because the contractor has not been paid. The problem is the municipality is not coming up with the money.”

Contradicting this, however, documentary records in The Mercury’s possession indicate that more than R50 million was paid by the municipality to Zikhulise in November and December.

Municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe confirmed a total of “around R300 million” had been paid to Zikhulise over 18 months and said the project had been completed in mid-December.

The project involved building low-cost cost RDP houses on 4 500 sites in Umlazi B10, KwaMgaga and Umlazi Infill.

The Mercury has documentary proof that a total of R219 930 939 was electronically transferred from eThekwini to Zikhulise in 2009. In December alone, four payments totalling about R30 million were made.

Nyawose said thousands of houses were still under construction or to be built in Umlazi, contradicting Sutcliffe’s statement that all work had been completed.

Sutcliffe explained that some funding was usually paid in advance. “Contractors submit claims based on work done; the city’s professional team verify that and if such work has been done, payments are then made,” he said.

Like Nyawose, Sutcliffe confirmed that the development was initially a provincial project which the municipality was asked to take over.

“In August, 2006, eThekwini municipality resolved to take over the project and become the developer and further agreed that the professional team and contractors… be kept for the duration of the project.”

But just months after construction, some of the houses were crumbling, The Mercury established during a field trip.

The houses were not plastered or painted. Some had no toilets, taps, baths or showers.

An eight-member family living in a leaking, three-roomed house said their biggest concern was how they would eat. Only two members of the family were employed, one by Zikhulise and the other by one of its sub-contractors.

“Eish, school has started and we can’t take the children to school because we have no money,” said one woman.

Another angry man said the houses were of a poor quality because workers were told to rush their work.


Mpisane houses demolished

August 12 2010 at 07:37am

By Gugu Mbonambi

Two houses built six years ago by Durban tycoon Shauwn Mpisane’s construction company were demolished yesterday because they were unsafe – and residents of the Durban township of Lamontville have called for several more to be torn down and rebuilt.

The residents expressed their complaints as they watched the two houses built by Mpisane’s Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport company being demolished.

Ward councillor Nolubabalo Mthembu said 298 homes had been inspected, and it was resolved that two houses should be demolished.

She said 30 other houses with serious structural defects, including cracked walls and roofs and broken doors and windows, would be renovated soon.

“We found the two houses were not in a suitable condition for people to live in. The foundations were cracking, the walls had cracks and water would seep through the roof and walls when it rained,” she said.

Lamontville resident Nkosinathi Zulu, 38, said most of the houses, built in 2004, had needed to have cracks patched several times by Zikhulise.

Mthembu said Zikhulise had also been told to build new retaining walls at 14 houses in 2007, because walls were collapsing.

“I paid R3 000 for this house in 2005, when I moved in. But a year later the house started to crack,” said Zulu.

“In 2007, Zikhulise came to fix the house, but now it is collapsing. I have reported this issue of shoddy houses to the presidential hotline, but no action has been taken.”

Sipho Sibiya, a resident who helped demolish the houses yesterday, said Zikhulise’s workmanship was so bad that one of the houses collapsed when five men, using their hands, exerted pressure on it.

“If it was up to me, all these houses would be demolished. I wonder how these houses passed a building inspection,” he said.

Couglan Pather, head of housing in the eThekwini municipality, said the council could take legal action against any contractor who built substandard houses.

“In principle, we can still go after a contractor even if they built houses several years ago… We can recover our costs because houses are not supposed to collapse after six years,” he said.

Earlier this year, The Mercury’s investigations revealed that Zikhulise, which had a municipal contract to build 4 500 RDP homes in Umlazi, had done substandard work in a contract worth R300 million.

In 2008, Beeld newspaper reported that Mpisane had secured a R10,3m deal in 2004 to build houses in Lamontville.

The municipality reportedly coughed up R3.5m in January 2004 to fund the Lamontville project, while the balance of funding came from the Housing Department.

Contacted yesterday, Mpisane denied building houses in Lamontville, saying her company had not been in operation then.

“If you have something to say, send an e-mail,” she said.

The Mercury e-mailed her questions on the matter and, when contacted an hour later, Mpisane said she was not at home and had not read the mail.

“When did you know about this story? I am not obliged to give you a comment. I could respond to you tomorrow or the next day, if I want,” she said.

However, the 2004 Soros Economic Development Fund’s annual report states that Zikhulise began in 2002 by renovating schools.

“But in March 2003, the company branched out into construction, building 117 housing units in KwaZulu-Natal,” it reads.

“Not long after, Zikhulise received another construction contract worth $677 136 to build 307 subsidised low-income housing units.”