Cape Town - A warrant of arrest was issued on Monday for the former parliamentary national treasurer of the Congress of the People (Cope), when she failed to appear in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court.
Hildagrade Ndude was absent when her case was called before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg, on 23 counts of fraud, six of money laundering and one of theft.
Defence attorney Ed Booth said he had had no contact with Ndude for the past two weeks, and according to one of her two co-accused, Irene Motha, Ndude was in China.
She had not informed him that she was going to China, Booth said.
Prosecutor Zama Matayi said he also had no indication in his notes that Ndude was going to China, and would be absent on Monday.
The court ordered a warrant for her arrest, to be executed immediately, and postponed the case to July 27, when a trial date is to be scheduled.
Motha faces three fraud charges, while Ndude’s second co-accused Chebile Zulu faces two counts of fraud, two of money laundering and one of theft.
Cited in the charge sheet as accused number four was the company Sithaba Holdings (Pty) Ltd, of which Ndude was one of the two directors.
The company was charged with three counts of money laundering.
According to the charge sheet, Motha was Ndude’s personal assistant in Parliament, while Zulu was Ndude’s personal assistant at another company, Dyambu Holdings (Pty) Ltd, where Ndude was also a director.
According to the charge sheet, Cope had two main sources of funding Äfrom the national Parliament, pro rata to the number of seats that Cope occupied in Parliament, and from the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), for the purposes of functioning within the political sphere in the country.
In both cases, the funding is from taxpayers’ money, both have to have their individual bank accounts and are accounted for individually.
Ndude was the principal signatory for both accounts, together with the president of Cope, Mosiuoa Lekota.
According to the charge sheet, Ndude was Cope’s financial political head, and as the national treasurer had to ensure transparent management of Cope’s affairs.
The prosecutor alleges that she and Motha manipulated Cope’s electronic system to divert payments meant for suppliers into their own personal bank accounts, as well as Zulu’s, between April 2010 and May 2011.
Motha and Zulu, who are out on warning, as opposed to being on bail, were warned to return to court on July 21.