Mandela funeral scandal: Seven accused plead not guilty ahead of fraud trial

Sindiswa Gomba in court
Sindiswa Gomba in court
PHOTO: Malibongwe Dayimani/News24
  • Seven people accused of defrauding the Buffalo City Metro to the tune of R10 million have pleaded not guilty.
  • It is alleged that they pretended the funds were meant for the 2013 funeral of late president Nelson Mandela.
  • Their trial is expected to start on Monday.

Seven people accused of swindling the Buffalo City Metro out of R10 million, and pretending the funds were meant for the 2013 funeral of late president Nelson Mandela, have pleaded not guilty to fraud, money laundering and the contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

"All the accused have pleaded not guilty, and on Monday, the prosecution will lead its first oral evidence, [and] the whole term, which will end on 10 June, has been set aside for this trial," National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said.

Sindiswa Gomba with co-accused Zukiswa Ncitha in c
Axed Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba (right) chatting to co-accused Zukiswa Ncitha, who is the former mayor of Buffalo City Metro, and their lawyer, advocate Michael Maseti.

The trial of suspended ANC Amatole regional chairperson Phumlani Mkolo; former Buffalo City speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele; former mayor Zukiswa Ncitha; former deputy mayor Themba Tinta; former Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba; and the municipality's former supply chain manager, Thembelani Sali is expected to be heard in the Eastern Cape High Court in Bhisho.

READ | Mandela funeral scandal: Buffalo City stops paying legal fees of 4 former senior councillors

It is alleged that the accused acted with a common purpose to defraud and manipulate municipal procurement processes. They allegedly manipulated the situation, so that the funds could be used for other purposes than what they were approved for.

In January, advocate Mike Maseti told Judge Igna Stretch in the High Court in East London that his instructing law firm had withdrawn from representing Simon-Ndzele, Ncitha, Gomba and Sali after the metro's decision to stop paying their legal bills

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane fired Gomba on 18 February after she was charged.

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