Former Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) deputy director-general Siphokazi Ndudane’s legal team got a tongue-lashing by Judge Tandazwa Ndita for not affording the court enough time to familiarise itself with the facts of her case.
Ndudane headed to the Western Cape High Court on Thursday, where arguments were expected to be heard, in which she sought relief from the court to have her matter scrapped.
Ndudane is challenging her arrest and wants the court to order all charges against her to be withdrawn. She is charged with two counts of contravention of Section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004 (PRECCA). Ndudane was granted R100 000 bail after appearing at the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court and was ordered to surrender all her passports to the investigating officer.
Judge Ndita said that she had not been afforded enough time to familiarise herself with the facts of the case and had only been furnished with Ndudane’s voluminous document – about 600 pages – on the day the matter was to be argued.
“Practitioners cannot just do as they please to bring a file of this magnitude on the very day and expect it must be heard. It really is quite unacceptable that a matter of this magnitude is brought on the day,” said Judge Ndita.
Ndudane’s legal counsel submitted that they needed to have the matter heard urgently but had to respond to allegations made against her in detail as it “affects her livelihood and her dignity”.
Judge Ndita said it was for those very reasons that the court should be afforded time to read the documents thoroughly because “a lot is at stake”.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila, said they had opposed Ndudane’s “urgent application”.
The NPA submitted their heads of argument opposing the relief sought by Ndudane but the matter was not argued as expected.
“The NPA is disappointed but understands why the application had to be postponed.
“The NPA is ready to oppose the application and will provide the supplementary documents on time as requested by the court and will be ready to oppose.”
Ndudane had handed herself over to the police after a warrant for her arrest was issued and appeared before the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court.
The Hawks said it was alleged that between 2016 and 2019, Ndudane failed to report incidents of fraud that were brought to her attention in her capacity as deputy director general.
Ndudane has maintained her innocence and argues that she had reported the crimes and the current charges levelled against her are a “witch hunt” in an attempt to soil her credibility and is an “abuse of court process”.
Her legal counsel, Barnabas Xulu, had previously said the charges against his client “points to the malice of the SAPS and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)” adding that the continued arrest of his client could result in her losing her job.