New evidence surfaces as Gumede case postponed to April

Zandile Gumede. Picture: Jabulani Langa
Zandile Gumede. Picture: Jabulani Langa

One of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede’s co-accused collapsed in the dock on Wednesday as the state revealed that the fraudulent Durban Solid Waste tender’s value had jumped from R208 million to R389 million.

The high profile corruption case against Gumede and 21 others got underway at the Durban Commercial Court amid drama as the prosecutor told the court that “new evidence” had been uncovered, with the fraudulent tender’s value was R181 million more than first reported.

This revelation came after the start of proceedings were delayed as journalists were told that only 10 media representatives would be allowed into the courtroom. Journalists were then ordered to switch off their cellphones and not to film Gumede in court.

Then one of the accused, Sinthamone Ponnan, took ill as the hearing got underway. This resulted in a brief adjournment as she was rushed out of court onto a waiting ambulance.

Gumede’s lawyers also asked for more time to review the new evidence against her.

The former mayor, who is out on R50 000 bail, is accused of using her position to influence the awarding of the contract in 2016, shortly after she took office.

The 22 accused were arrested after a year-long investigation by the Hawks’ Clean Audit Task Team for allegedly receiving bribes in contravention of the Municipal Finance Act and Municipal Systems Act.

On Wednesday, the state asked for a six-month postponement to gather more evidence against Gumede. However, magistrate Dawn Somaroo told the prosecutor to be ready in three months’ time – on April 16.

Gumede expressed concern about the postponement, saying she did not understand why the state had not wrapped up its investigations.

“It has been almost a year since the matter started, yet they are still not ready,” Gumede told journalists.

Gumede was forced by the ANC to step down as mayor in September last year. She was replaced by Mxolisi Kaunda.

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