An Eastern Cape ANC bigwig accused of dipping into the Nelson Mandela funeral fund has failed to persuade the judge in his case to recuse herself.
Pumlani Mkolo, the suspended chair of the party's Dr WB Rubusana region, brought an application for judge Igna Stretch to step down.
The charges against him and nine others emanate from the procurement of goods and services for memorial gatherings after the former president’s death in December 2013.
Among those in the Makhanda high court dock with Mkolo are former Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba, former Buffalo City speaker Simon Ndzele, former mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, former deputy mayor Themba Tinta and former Buffalo City supply chain manager Thembelani Sali.
On April 22, Mkolo accused Stretch of bias after she said she was not “prepared to entertain any further applications for the trial to be adjourned”.
According to the affidavit, Stretch said, during an exchange with Ncitha’s lawyer: “What concerns me is that this is a serious matter. We all know that it is a serious matter. The media are here. They consider it to be a serious matter.
“It’s been eight months since the final indictment was served, and the accused are taking opportunity after opportunity to come with last-minute excuses as to why the trial should not go on. Prima facie I believe that this is a delaying tactic.
“It makes a mockery of the rule of law. It makes a mockery of the judicial system. It makes a mockery of President Mandela’s funeral and corruption that apparently took place at that time, and I think people should start seeing this a little bit more seriously.”
Stretch said she had “bent over backwards: to accommodate [Mkolo] and his co-accused.
“In my view, this application is not supported by the facts or by context and seems to have been drafted in rather a hurry without proper consideration.”
Refusing the recusal application, she said the trial would continue in Bhisho on Tuesday.
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