State hopes to finalise investigations into Zandile Gumede R430m corruption probe by December

10 September 2020 - 14:39
Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede.
Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The state has agreed to finalise its forensic audit report into the R430m corruption scandal involving former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and her 16 co-accused within the next three months.

Gumede and her co-accused, who include eThekwini municipal manager Sipho Nzuza and the former chairperson of the infrastructure committee Mondli Mthembu, appeared in the Durban specialised commercial crimes court on Thursday.

During proceedings the state updated the court regarding its ongoing investigations into the R430m Durban Solid Waste tender, which is alleged to have been irregularly awarded to four companies in 2016, shortly after Gumede took office as mayor.

Senior state prosecutor Ashika Lucken outlined the mammoth task the state is faced with in finalising its forensic audit report into the matter.

STATE EVIDENCE IN NUMBERS:

• 6,500 pages of source documents which include invoices, delivery notes, requisitions, weigh bridge slips and contracts 

460,000 pages of bank statements and financial records that depict the flow of funds from the DSW tender

• 5,250 pages of source documents attained from search and seizures 

• 250 gigabytes worth of data obtained from devices seized

• 24,000 pages of data from documents related to relationship mapping and background searches

• 450 witness statements

“I am advised that the estimated length of the audit report, together with the annexures and supporting documents, will be about 350,000 pages.”

She said investigators estimated that they would need at least three months to complete the report.

“I have consulted investigators, we are looking at three months for the completion of the audit report. Discovery and the indictments would then be the next step taken once this is completed.”

Gumede's lawyer, advocate Jay Naidoo, was expected to proceed with his section 342A application — which pertains to unreasonable delays in trials — in an attempt to have the matter struck off the roll.

However, on Thursday, after the state had furnished the court with an update regarding its investigations, Naidoo opted to postpone his application to the next court date.

Magistrate Dawn Somaroo postponed the matter to December 10 — ordering the state to update the defence teams regarding the completion of the forensic audit report by November 26.

Meanwhile, Nzuza's attorney, Griffiths Madonsela, made allegations against Hawks investigators who had allegedly induced Nzuza's 84-year-old mother into making a statement by providing her with fruit and vegetables.

Madonsela said he was shocked to have learnt of the alleged “dirty tactics” used by the two investigators who visited Nzuza's mother at her Durban North home last month.

“They visited the home of my client's mother, bringing along fruits and vegetables in the process of procuring a statement in relation to the accused person. The accused was called when the statement was being taken. From the very little he had heard he spotted obvious inaccuracies in what was being documented by the investigators. The officers informed my client that anything he did would constitute obstructing the ends of justice. He then decided to leave.” 

He sought clarity on whether Nzuza's mother was a witness in the case, which would subsequently mean that Nzuza would not be able to communicate with her — as this would result in the breach of his bail conditions (interference with witnesses). 

However Lucken said that the information obtained from Nzuza's mother was merely confirmatory information and that the elderly woman did not form part of the witness list.

Somaroo ordered that the state look into the allegations.

Gumede, Mthembu and Nzuza remain out on R50,000 bail.

Times Select reported that the charges against Gumede, as well as Mthembu, pertain to the contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), the Municipal Supply Chain Management Regulations and the Provisions of the Adjustment of Fines Act.


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