Durban - The arrest of eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede in connection with a R208m waste tender took another twist on Wednesday when KZN premier-elect, Sihle Zikalala had defend himself from knowing about her arrest after the emergence of an audio clip that was widely circulated on social media.
In the audio clip of a recorded conversation between two men - one of whom is allegedly an investigator working with the Hawks the men discuss the Gumede matter. During the clip, the purported investigator says that had telephoned Zikalala requesting a meeting with him and intimates that Zikalala knew of Gumede's arrest before it happened.
Zikalala however dismissed the claims in a statement on Wednesday which he said created the impression that he knew about the arrest of Zandile Gumede.
“I take serious exception to anyone’s suggestion that I have had any prior knowledge of any arrest. It is very clear that some rogue elements are now involved in a campaign to distract me from carrying out my responsibilities. I wish to state that I have had no contact nor any discussion with any investigator involved in the case. I have instructed my office to hand over this audio-clip to law enforcement agencies and cyber experts for investigation. We need to establish the identity of the voices behind the conversation and reasons behind making such unfounded allegations,” Zikalala said.
“I want to assure the people of this province and the country as a whole that our main focus at the moment is on establishing the government of the people. On the 11th May, millions of people celebrated the opportunity to elect the party of their choice to lead a democratic government that represents their aspirations. We don’t want to betray the trust of those who voted as they are waiting for service delivery.”
On Tuesday, Gumede, along with senior municipal councillor Mondli Mthembu and a supplier, Craig Ponan, appeared in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court on charges that include fraud, corruption and racketeering. They were each granted R50 000 bail and told to return to court in August.
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.