- Zandile Gumede and her co-accused will be heading to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban for pre-trial proceedings as her corruption matter gains traction.
- On Tuesday, the Durban Commercial Crimes Court settled all outstanding matters and moved her case to the High Court for pre-trial proceedings on 14 June.
- Three more councillors from the eThekwini Metro have joined Gumede as accused in the Durban Solid Waste tender scandal.
The corruption case of KwaZulu-Natal MPL and former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, and her 20 co-accused is expected to head to the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on 14 June.
Gumede, who has a great deal of support in the vital ANC eThekwini region, was hoping the State, led by Ashika Lucken, would not be ready for trial.
This comes after a nearly three-and-a-half-month postponement at her previous appearance on 10 December 2020.
On Tuesday morning, in a brief appearance in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court, it was revealed that Lucken and her team were more than ready to proceed.
Lucken said that the docket and forensic reports had been loaded onto hard drives which the defence supplied. They were handed to the defence. This was a major development after Lucken previously clashed with the defence about the readiness of documents.
Indictments were also handed over to the defence teams in court. There are 324 pages for the charge sheet and the number of charges for all the accused combined amounts to 2 786.
JUST IN: The corruption case against former eThekwini mayor #ZandileGumede and 21 other co-accused is set for trial. The matter has been moved to the High Court for pre-trial on June 14. Indictments have been served. The accused are facing 2786 charges collectively. @etvNewsSA pic.twitter.com/m8bPYwXN6L— Nabeelah Shaikh (@Nabeelah_Shaikh) March 23, 2021
Previously, Magistrate Dawn Somaroo rapped Lucken over the knuckles due to repeated postponements after the matter first went to court just under two years ago.
An audit report, key to the investigation into the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) tender fraud - allegedly implicating Gumede and her co-accused in R430 million worth of corruption - was completed, but annexures still had to be paginated and bound, Lucken argued in December.
She said the audit report summary, comprising 741 pages, was finalised.
At the time, she said the annexures alone amounted to about 75 000 pages. Lucken acknowledged that she did not read the full report or summary herself, something the defence teams, particularly Gumede's legal team, took exception to.
For the first time in the matter, Lucken also informed the court that the report would have to follow a stringent process before anyone could see it.
Gumede supporters wanted the matter thrown out of court on Tuesday if the State did not submit all documents to the defence.
Her supporters claimed, without evidence, that there was a political ploy against her.
"Our plea is that we must stop, by all means necessary, the use of State power to lynch those we political disagree with, be it students, workers or communities who face a hail of bullets during peaceful protests. [They] have been victimised and paraded to the world as corrupt and yet there's no single charge that has been brought forward," said Ntando Khuzwayo a spokesperson for Gumede and the ANC eThekwini ranches that support her.
Khuzwayo lamented that Gumede and her co-accused had appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court for nearly two years with little movement in the matter.
This week, three more eThekwini metro ANC councillors were added to the growing list of suspects in the irregular 2017 Durban Solid Waste tender that cost in excess of R430 million.
Councillors Mthokozisi Nojiyeza from Ward 80, Bhekokwakhe Phewa from Ward 44 and Sduduzo Khuzwayo from Ward 108 appeared in the Durban Specialised Crimes Court for charges of fraud and corruption relating to the tender.
Khuzwayo and Gumede supporters have long stated that the accusations of corruption against her were "an abuse of state resources".
"Our society must be worried by this abuse of courts processes and media to silent certain individuals within our society. Our patience has been tested for far too long on this matter and we expect that this matter to come to conclusions."