'A miscarriage of justice': supporters rally behind Zandile Gumede as trial resumes

15 July 2020 - 19:25
By Zimasa Matiwane
Zandile Gumede outside the Durban magistrate's court during a previous appearance on corruption charges. She is expected back in court on Thursday.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu Zandile Gumede outside the Durban magistrate's court during a previous appearance on corruption charges. She is expected back in court on Thursday.

ANC branches aligned to corruption-accused former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede are demanding a total dismissal of the case against her, ahead of her court appearance on Thursday.

Gumede and co-accused former chairperson of the infrastructure committee Mondli Mthembu are out on bail after allegedly illegally benefiting from a R280m waste tender  issued by the municipality while she was still mayor.

“It's been exactly one year and two months. The prosecution team has not been able to present any preferred charges against the two comrades,” said Mzomhle Dube on behalf of Gumede's supporters.

“The court has reasonably intervened to assist the prosecution team to formulate and present the long-awaited charges, but nothing has sufficed.”

He called on the court to dismiss “these unknown political allegations against Zandile Gumede and Mondli Mthembu as baseless and unsubstantiated — and simply withdraw these allegations”.

Gumede's supporters have long maintained that the case against her and Mthembu is nothing but a political witch-hunt.

“We warned the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) [and the] Hawks against politicising criminal processes. In the main, we lamented a new culture of arrest before [gathering] substantial evidence after investigation. We have been constantly saying the accused are subjected to [a] political witch-hunt masquerading as justice, thus defeating the ... ends of justice and mainly abusing state resources,” said Dube.

Gumede was removed by the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal from the mayoral seat when the criminal matter surfaced. However, her supporters believe party rivals exploited the allegations to destroy her politically.

“As ANC eThekwini branches, we have reached a conclusion, again affirming that the political foes of Zandile Gumede and Mondli Mthembu were and are still actively using [the] NPA [and the] Hawks to assault them politically,” said Dube.

“It was no coincidence that when comrade Zandile Gumede was removed as the mayor, the ANC regional structure which she led was simultaneously dissolved.”

He said while suspended former eThekwini municipal manager Sipho Nzuza's charges were instantly presented before court, there were still no preferred charges against Gumede and Mthembu.

“It must be noted that nothing stopped or derailed [the] NPA [or the] prosecution team to formulate preferred charges against comrades Zandile Gumede and Mondli Mthembu, as this investigation has been ongoing since 2018.

“Borrowing from the decision of the court back in January 2020 to place the prosecution team under case management, we expect the NPA to present charges against the two accused or to have shared such with [the] defence team for the allocation of [a] speedy trial or progress.”

Dube said the case is a miscarriage of justice, adding that Gumede and Mthembu had suffered damage and harassment. He called for an acquittal, a withdrawal of the charges or an explanation from the NPA.