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S'bu and Shauwn Mpisane: Lives of Controversial Riches and Luxury

Evidently fraud and tender corruption made them millionaires, but after years of living in extravagance, the Kwazulu-Natal business woman Shauwn Mpisane and her husband, former metro cop S'bu, were recently stripped of 51 cars and 4 houses. Is this the end of their extravagant controversial riches? One can't say, as under an ANC controlled South Africa, tender corruption and tender controversy has evidently become a proud tradition. Hopefully asset forfeitures like in the case of the Mpisane couple, is a good sign of change in a South Africa rife with corruption. But it is still a drop in the bucket.

Evidently fraud and tender corruption made them millionaires, but after years of living in extravagance, the Kwazulu-Natal business woman Shauwn Mpisane and her husband, former metro cop S'bu, were recently stripped of 51 cars and 4 houses.

S'bu and Shauwn Mpisane are a prime example of how, in an ANC governed South Africa where tender corruption and questionable practicesappear to be the norm, the right toxic connections can make some politically connected people insanely rich beyond the public's wildest nightmares.

A bit on S'bu / Sibusiso Mpisane: In 1998, when S'bu Mpisane, a metro policeman, was supposed to testify regarding his role in murders committed during an attack on Durban's High Court in order to kill the accused inside of it, S'bu simply vanished for a year. And, lo and behold, so did the getaway car S'bu had used to drive away the gunmen.

When he did finally appear again, his explanation for his disappearance was nothing short of a fantastic outline for a great thriller story: According to him, he was kidnapped and held prisoner on a secret island somewhere on the coast of Africa.

There was no further investigation by his employer, the South African Police Service. Instead, he was not only welcomed back to work but promoted to sergeant and a life of luxury began for him. (His failure to testify has been cited to be the reason Mandla Gcaba, the taxi boss whose orders allegedly led to the murders, being acquitted.)

In 2008, newspapers in Durban were speculating how S'bu, a metro policeman who earns only R15,000 a month, can drive to work every day in a Lamborghini, and live in a luxurious mansion. And people say the police are underpaid, pff!

Meanwhile, S'bu's now wife, Shauwn, has her own colorful introductory past: In 1997, Shauwn Mpisane's mother started "Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport" (note the interesting combination) while she was an ANC councilor of the eThekwini municipality in Durban.

This Zikhulise enterprise got its first big tender in 2004 to build houses in Lamontville. Many of these houses had to be demolished later because they were declared unsafe. However, as South Africans know, under ANC government the fact that a company does a bad job and wastes tax money is by no means a deterrent against using that company; in fact it appears it's a plus point - even more and more contracts were awarded to "Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport".

In fact, after Shauwn Mpisane, after her mother's death the sole director of the company, was found guilty of fraud in 2005, more housing contracts of five hundred million rands was awarded to her.

It is therefore no surprise that over the years suspicions ran high, talking of contrived state tenders and big paying contracts thanks to their political connections, being the reason for the Mpisane couple's vast fortunes estimated at six hundred million.

In 2010, their company was accused by the National Home Builders' Registration Counciland provincial government of building poor-quality homes in Umlazi, Durban.

Currently, Shauwn Mpisane faces 53 charges of fraud. It would appear she had falsified testimonials, provided false bank accounts and told blatant lies in order to obtain lucrative tenders.

At the same time, she is also facing 119 other charges of tax evasion.

Last year, the Mpisanes were true to their reputation for lavish parties, when they spent over one million just to renew their wedding vows at the Fairmont Hotel in Zimbali, in front of 180 guests. Just the flowers alone cost over three hundred thousand rands.

People who have been inside the Mpisane's mansion worth about forty million rands in La Lucia, speak among other things of expensive flatscreen televisions all over, and the couple eating out of a gold embossed Villeroy & Boch set worth one hundred thousand rands. "But, nowhere did I see one single book!", exclaimed one visitor.

Then there is the arrival of Shauwn Mpisane at the Durban July... by helicopter. Why drive in a car like an average Joe, right?

Then, starting on 6 February 2013, perhaps the house of cards that is their extravagant life, has started to come tumbling down, as the Asset Forfeiture Unit seized the mansionin the exclusive suburb La Lucia in the northern parts of Durban. There, in a huge parking garage, the Asset Forfeiture Unit found a collection of 51 cars, including a pearl white Lamborghini Murciélago. There is a pair of everything, including two Rolls-Royces, two Ferrarri Scaglietti's, two Porche's, two Maserati cabriolets, two Hummers, two bullet proof BMW 550's... One of the Rolls-Royce's has only ever driven 2,800 kilometers. It's been so long since it was started up, that the battery had to be replaced in order to remove the vehicle from the garage. A complete waste indeed.

All in all, the Asset Forfeiture Unit seized 51 cars and 4 properties: The La Lucia mansion, a beach apartment worth two million, a house in the rich man's suburb Cowies Hill, and a unit in Umhlanga worth eight and a half million. As for cars, the poor Mpisane couple is left with only a BMW and a Range Roverto drive.

Is this the end of their extravagant controversial riches? One can't say, as under an ANC controlled South Africa, tender corruption and tender controversy has evidently become a proud tradition. Hopefully asset forfeitures like in the case of the Mpisane couple, is a good sign of change in a South Africa rife with corruption. But it is still a drop in the bucket.

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