Shelembe case: dead man may yet testify

2013-04-23 00:00

THE prosecution wants an affidavit by deceased local estate agent Neville Watts to be admitted as evidence in the corruption trial of former uMgungundlovu district councillors Lucky Moloi and Alpha Shelembe and their co-accused.

Watts, who died earlier this year, was expected to be a key state witness in the case after cutting a deal with the prosecution and pleading guilty to the charges.

He was sentenced to a fine of R50 000, half of which was suspended, plus correctional supervision during a “secret” court appearance in Durban. Another former councillor and co-accused in the case, Themba Zungu, also died before the trial got under way.

State advocate Makhosi Mthembu yesterday submitted that it was in the interests of justice for the court to admit Watts’s statement as evidence in the trial even though it is hearsay, as he had played a vital role in the sale.

The application is, however, vigorously opposed by defence lawyers Jerome Brauns SC and Simphiwe Moloi.

Regional court magistrate Jaco Jordaan adjourned the hearing until tomorrow to give them an opportunity to prepare detailed argument.

Moloi and Shelembe face allegations that they colluded with others to persuade the district municipality to buy the MIB building in the CBD for use as offices and parking space at an “inflated” price of R6 850 000.

In return, it is alleged, they each received R200 000 in commission. Both men deny any wrongdoing.

Their three co-accused, former bodyguard Tembinkosi Xaba, Nelisiwe Shelembe, Shelembe’s sister, and Joyful Shelembe, his wife, have pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering arising from the corrupt transaction.

Earlier yesterday Pietermaritzburg attorney Keith Hobson, whose firm was involved in finalising the sale agreement (and whose brother living overseas was a part-owner), testified that he had never considered there was anything wrong with the agreement, as it was approved by the executive committee and full council.

Hobson said he was not involved in negotiating the sale price, as he never had a mandate to do so.

He was also never told that the purchase price was altered to increase the commission payable, he said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.