Deputy mayor just in time at hearing to avoid arrest warrant

2011-06-08 00:00

A REGIONAL Court magistrate yesterday authorised a warrant for the arrest of KwaZulu-Natal businessman Lucky Moloi, who failed to appear in court in connection with corruption charges.

He faces these charges along with six co-accused, who include Pietermaritzburg’s controversial newly elec­ted deputy mayor Alpha Shelembe.

However, in response to pleas by Moloi’s attorney, Joshna Panday, regional magistrate Jaco Jordaan agreed to order that the execution of the warrant be stayed pending the return date for the trial on June 21.

On that date Moloi will be required to attend court to explain his absence, or he will be arrested and his R5 000 bail could be forfeited to the state.

Shelembe, his wife, Joyful, and sister Nelisiwe narrowly escaped the same fate as Moloi, as they arrived more than two hours late for yesterday’s hearing.

Shelembe, who was the first of the trio to arrive, slipped into court halfway through the proceedings to join local property developer Neville Watt, former Msunduzi councillor Themba Zungu and former bodyguard Thembinkosi Xaba in the dock.

Shelembe apologised profusely to the court saying he had intended no disrespect and that he had been confused about whether he had to be in court or whether his attorney would simply appear on his behalf.

He said he had only just received a message that he had to be in court.

He said he had contacted his wife and sister to inform them to immediately come to court.

Earlier his attorney had informed the court that he had no idea why the trio was not present and said attempts to contact them were unsuccessful as their cellphones were off.

Moloi’s lawyer too told the court that she had not been able to contact the businessman yesterday as his mobile phone was off, and said she had left him a message.

However, when state advocate Rema Mahabeer urged the court to issue an arrest warrant for Moloi to be carried out “forthwith”, Panday requested he be given time to explain his absence.

 Panday said Moloi had never been absent before when he was required to attend court.

Allegations against the accused are that they colluded together to persuade the uMgungundlovu Municipality to purchase the MIB building in Langalibalele (Longmarket) Street in 2003 at an inflated price of R6 850 000.

It is also alleged that Watts, Zungu, and Shelembe shared the R1 million “commission” between them.

The other accused are alleged to have helped “launder” the money to conceal its origin.

At the time the three men were councillors in the uMgungundlovu Municipality.

Watts was a private property agent who allegedly negotiated the purchase of the property.

The property was earmarked for use as office and parking space.

The trial date has been set for September 5 to 30 this year.

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