GRAFT ACCUSED: eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG, May 14 (ANA) - The eThekwini Municipality on Tuesday said it had noted the charges of fraud and corruption levelled against Mayor Zandile Gumede and a senior councillor, but moved to assure residents that this would have no impact on service delivery.

Gumede is accused alongside Mondli Mthembu, a member of EXCO and Chair of the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Cluster. Gumede was released on R50,000 bail after appearing in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday morning.

In a statement, the municipality said it will co-operate fully with the legal process and added that it abides by the legal principle of innocent until proven otherwise. 

"More importantly, the Municipality would like to assure residents that, this matter will have no impact on service delivery to communities. Accordingly, there is no reason for residents to panic." 

Gumede, along with senior municipal councillor Mondli Mthembu and a supplier, Craig Ponan, appeared in court on Tuesday after handing themselves over to police in connection to a raft of charges including fraud, corruption and racketeering. They were each granted the same amount of bail.

The charges relate to a dodgy R208 million tender within the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) department that earlier this month saw nine people arrested for fraud including DSW deputy head Robert Abbu and the city's supply chain manager Sandile Ngcobo. In recent weeks, they appeared before the commercial crimes court. The other accused in the matter were service providers. 

Earlier today, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, the spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), while not naming the mayor said that three suspects would appear at the Durban Specialised Commercial Court today as part the Hawks’ National Clean Audit Task Team (NCATT) investigation at the eThekwini Municipality. 

"The three will face the same charges as the other nine suspects who were arrested two weeks ago on allegations of fraud and corruption in relation to a 2016 R208 million Durban Solid Waste tender where service providers were allegedly paid huge amounts of monies even though they did not render any service," he said.

"The nine suspects are Ethekwini Municipality Deputy Head of Strategy and New Development Robert Abbu (62), Supply Chain Manager Sandile Ngcobo (41), Hlenga Sibisi (43), Mzwandile Dludla (24), Sinthamone Ponnan (55), Sithulele Mkhize (38), Bongani Dlomo (53), and Prabagaram Pariah (61). "As indicated previously, the attendance of all those who played a role in the alleged offences, shall be secured before court where the allegations shall be tested." said the National Head of the DPCI, Godfrey Lebeya".

- African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Lindiz van Zilla