Mandela memorial embezzlement case postponed

2014-11-21 13:21

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The top leaders of the Buffalo City Metro appeared at the East London Regional Court today on charges of money laundering and fraud.

They are linked to the embezzlement of R5.9 million meant for late former state president Nelson Mandela’s memorial services.

Mandela died in December last year.

The funds which were meant for the organising and transportation of mourners to memorial services were allegedly misused by the leaders for their personal gain.

The top leaders – which include Buffalo City mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, her deputy Themba Tinta, council speaker, Luleka Simon-Ndzele senior municipal councillor, Sindiswa Gomba and senior official Ondela Mahlangu – appeared in the packed courtroom sporting fancy designer outfits and handbags, expensive sunglasses and general bling.

The accused included the ANC Buffalo City regional secretary, Pumlani Mkolo, and several service providers such as businesspeople Mzwandile Sokwali and his wife Busisiwe Boti, Dean William Fanoe, Zintle Nkuhlu and Viwe Vazi and their companies.

The state asked for a separation of trial to be held on December 9, in respect of Sokwali, his wife, Busisiwe Boti, and their company, Victory Ticket 750, which was granted.

The rest of the accused got a “provisional” trial date set for April 7 2015, pending a handing over of further particulars and dockets by the state to the defence teams.

The case will appear in court again on February 25 to make sure that there are no outstanding matters before the provisional trial date.

Inside the regional court, ANC members jostled for spaces to sit.

Younger and junior members of the party were asked to make way and sacrifice their spaces for older cadres, who had packed the corridors.

The court and the corridors were hijacked by the yellow T-shirt-clad supporters who had come from nearby informal settlement, Duncan Village, and surrounding areas.

Outside court, after the postponement, the supporters sang pro-ANC slogans and praised each of the accused.

As they sang, their leaders were quietly whisked out of court by bodyguards in their flashy state vehicles, which had parked outside.

Advocate Matthew Mpahlwa – who spoke on behalf of some of the accused, including deputy mayor, Tinta – said he could not get into the merits of the processes, but that they were looking forward to the trial in April.

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