Durban - There was drama inside the corridors of the Special commercial crime court when supporters of Mayor Zandile Gumede clashed with the media.
Gumede was released on R50 000 bail on strict bail conditions.
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. They are expected back in 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.
They also had strict bail conditions set for them.
In the corridors Gumede and her co accused had to pay bail before being released.
Members of Gumede's entourage can been seen shielding the mayor from media as she made her way out of court.
There was a huge police presence outside.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance in eThekwini welcomed the developments in the city. Party caucus leader in the municipality, Nicole Graham, said they were cautiously optimistic at the news.
“The fact that this only happened after the election - whilst contractors and municipal officials have already been arrested in cases that implicate both Gumede and Mthembu - is a clear indication of a deal that was struck to save face for the ANC. The DA have been calling for Gumede’s axing for some time. Her reign at the helm of eThekwini has been characterized by poor performance, maladministration and corruption," she said.
Mdu Nkosi, IFP caucus leader in eThekwini said everyone deserved to clear their names.
“If there’s a cloud hovering over your head, then clear your name. We want everyone and everything that compromise service delivery be brought to the open and the perpetrators be dealt with accordingly. Regarding this matter, the mayor should not be treated differently to others who are implicated in fraud and corruption. On top of that, we hope that municipal officials who are also involved in these dodgy dealings are also arrested. Politicians can’t be corrupt without the involvement of officials because documents are signed by officials, and not by politicians,” Nkosi said.
He said corruption and its subsequent outcomes were negatively affecting the daily operations of the city.
“We had the executive committee meeting postponed today with unclear reasons. Last week we had full council cancelled because of the city’s waste and wastewater department employees going on strike because of the preferential treatment given to MK veterans,” Nkosi said.
He also questioned the Hawks’ delaying of their job to effect the arrests. He said these allegations were known before the election, yet the Hawks decide to act after the election.
“Was this some form of protecting the ruling party from losing votes? If this matter involved a different party arrests would have been made a long time ago,” he said.