One year on, clarity on CIIU witness to be provided in trial of Zandile Gumede and others

Zandile Gumede. Picture: Bongani Mbatha

Zandile Gumede. Picture: Bongani Mbatha

Published Mar 12, 2024


Durban — It will be clear on Thursday what is to happen regarding cross-examination of a former senior official who is a State witness with the eThekwini’s City Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU) in the R320 million tender fraud and corruption trial against former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and her co-accused.

State Prosecutor advocate Reshma Athmaram revealed this on Monday in the Durban High Court where the trial continues today (Tuesday).

“The State will revert on Thursday regarding this witness, and will hand out an affidavit from the investigating officer outlining his position together with a medical certificate,” she said.

Last year in March the witness began leading evidence around how the investigation into the alleged tender fraud came about, and at the time he was being cross-examined, he was booked off sick.

The State in the matter alleges that during a period spanning 36 months, former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, her city manager, the deputy head of Durban Solid Waste (DSW), the former deputy head of Supply Chain Management (SCM) and a councillor managed an enterprise that fraudulently bled the city of millions.

Gumede and her co-accused face over 2 000 charges, including conspiracy to commit corruption, corruption, fraud, money laundering, racketeering, contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act and contravention of the Municipal Systems Act, amounting to over R300m in relation to a DSW tender.

The State alleges that Gumede, Mondli Mthembu (an executive councillor), Sipho Nzuza (former City manager), Robert Allan Abbu (deputy head at DSW), and Sandile Ngcobo (former deputy head of SCM) managed and participated in the affairs of the enterprise.

It’s alleged that they worked together to ensure that orders or contracts were awarded to specific suppliers, namely Ilanga LaMahlase PTY (LTD), Uzuzinekele Trading 31 CC, Omphile Thabanga Projects and El Shaddai Holdings CC – all listed as accused in the matter.

Accused Mzwandile Dlula is the sole director of Ilanga LaMahlase PTY (LTD), Zithulele Mkhize is the sole member of Uzuzinekele trading 31 CC, while husband and wife Bongani and Khoboso Dlomo are the directors of Omphile Thabanga Projects, and accused Prabagaran Pariah is the sole member of El Shaddai Holdings CC.

The state alleges that the goal of their common purpose was to manipulate the DSW contracts via the SCM system of eThekwini Municipality.

Athmaran also indicated that on Thursday she would be reverting to the court regarding a possible trial within a trial around search and seizures, and the possibility of making an application that it be heard without the media present.

Previously the “Daily News” reported that the State also intended making an application to have certain witnesses testify virtually.

“The State will launch an application for this, it will be done on or before March 18,” she said.

The defence for the accused made an undertaking to file answering affidavits to this application on March 22.

When the trial continues today (Tuesday), a witness employed in the City’s administration unit who had led evidence around 2017 meeting minutes provided to investigators with Integrity Forensic Solutions, the company that conducted the alleged tender fraud investigation for the City, will continue being cross-examined.

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