Arrest warrant against former transport minister Ndebele cancelled as he makes it to dock

01 December 2016 - 14:34 By Bongani Nkosi

A warrant of arrest would have been effected on former transport minister Sbu Ndebele had he not appeared at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Thursday.Ruling on a request to postpone the matter‚ magistrate Nicca Setshogoe officially announced that the “warrant of arrest for Ndebele is cancelled”.Sbu Ndebele 'agreed' to resignSbu Ndebele‚ SA’s former high commissioner to Australia and the erstwhile minister of transport‚ offered to leave office in Canberra to avoid sullying the country’s reputation. It was Ndebele's own advocate on the case‚ Jerome Brauns SC‚ who put it on record that there was a warrant of arrest issued against his client.He told Setshogoe the warrant arose because Ndebele was initially not going to appear in court on Thursday.Brauns said the warrant has now been cancelled‚ a fact Setshogoe confirmed in her ruling granting postponement of the matter to March 30‚ 2017.Trial date for bribe case against former transport minister to be known in DecemberFormer transport minister Sbu Ndebele and his five co-accused will have their trial date set when they return to court on December 1. Ndebele was absent when his co-accused were in the dock on September 1. Brauns had previously asked for his client to be excused for that appearance‚ citing costs of travelling from Australia‚ where Ndebele was South Africa's ambassador.Prior to confirmed news in October that Ndebele had resigned from the post‚ Brauns had asked for his client to be excused from Thursday's appearance too.Ndebele‚ 68‚ stood in the dock on Thursday with his co-accused‚ George Mahlalela‚ Zakhele Thwala‚ Tebogo Mphuti and Justine Ncube.Linda Dube‚ Ndebele's instructing attorney‚ downplayed the warrant of arrest‚ saying it was merely a formality for court to invoke it if there is doubt that an accused would not appear.Indicted last December and granted bail of R10 000 in the same month‚ Ndebele is accused number one in the criminal case.He is accused of receiving a R10-million bribe in 2010 while still transport minister.Ndebele allegedly took the money to illegally extend a R2-billion contract of the company that managed the National Traffic Information System‚ Tasima.The accused will hear on March 30‚ 2017 if they will be tried at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.Prosecutor Peter Serunye told the court that the state had set aside October 9 to December 7‚ 2017 to hear the trial at the high court‚ but some technicalities need to be sorted out before a final decision is taken. – TMG Digital/Sowetan

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