Another postponement in corruption trial of ex-Durban mayor Zandile Gumede and 21 others

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  • The corruption trial of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and 21 others has again been postponed in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban.
  • The trial is now set down for July.
  • The State and legal representatives for the accused will have to arrange a pretrial conference.

The Zandile Gumede corruption trial was once again postponed in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Tuesday when she appeared alongside former eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza and 20 others.

Former eThekwini mayor Gumede and her co-accused face more than 2 000 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering relating to a R320-million Durban solid waste project.

Several issues were raised during the brief court appearance, including a lack of legal representation for one of the accused Zithulele Mkhize.

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Initially, defence lawyers, including Jay Naidoo who represents Gumede, said they were told that the trial would begin on 18 July.

Naidoo said that between Tuesday and the start of the trial a pretrial conference was required to "iron out certain issues".

He said particulars which they had requested from the State were urgently required.

"There are things like redacted statements that need to be ventilated [at pretrial]. Any later than 29 April for further particulars will also be prejudicial against the accused in terms of time."

The matter was then postponed to 18 July. All parties would have to arrange for the provision of further particulars and a pretrial process before then.

Outside court, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Natasha Kara said the State had abided by all requests relating to more particulars.

Requests

"This request was acceded to timeously, and prior to today's (Tuesday) appearance. However, in court today, counsel advised that they will be making additional requests for further particulars to the State."

In court, Gumede appeared stoic and unemotional, but was visibly aggravated by another postponement in the matter.

Despite a large marquee and a group of mainly women supporters turning up outside court, Gumede did not address her supporters.

Her spokesperson, Njabulo Mchunu, said the State was delaying submitting the requested particulars.

"It cannot be the fault of the lawyers if they did not respond on time."

Initially, Gumede and her co-accused were implicated in theft, money laundering, fraud, corruption and the contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act. However, the NPA also chose to add racketeering charges.

Gumede; eThekwini metro councillor Mondli Mthembu; Nzuza; deputy head of strategic and new development at Durban Solid Waste (DSW) Robert Abbu; and deputy director of supply chain management Sandile Ngcobo were named as the alleged top-tier racketeering offenders.

According to the amended indictment, Gumede, Nzuza, Abbu and Ngcobo were the main players who "formed an enterprise".

In the court papers, it is alleged that companies Omphile Thabang Projects, Ilanga LaMahlase Projects Pty Ltd, Uzuzinekele Trading 31 CC and El Shaddai Holdings Group – all accused in the matter – provided a "continuity of structure for the unlawful activities of the enterprise".

The State alleges that their association "was to influence and manipulate the DSW contracts" via the supply chain system of the eThekwini metro.



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