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State witness tripped up on minutes of meeting in Zandile Gumede and co-accused trial

Former mayor of eThekwini Zandile Gumede and her supporters leave the Durban High Court on Monday. Picture: Nomonde Zondi

Former mayor of eThekwini Zandile Gumede and her supporters leave the Durban High Court on Monday. Picture: Nomonde Zondi

Published Mar 14, 2023


Durban — The Durban High Court has learnt that there were no minutes kept of a meeting held between the City’s integrity and investigations unit and Investigations and Forensic Solutions (IFS), during which they supposedly agreed that the investigation in tender irregularities be reported to the police in the case against former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and her co-accused.

Gumede and her co-accused face more than 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 more than R300 million relating to a Durban Solid Waste tender.

Last week the court adjourned because Gumede’s representative, advocate Jay Naidoo, requested that the State witness, Mbuso Ngcobo, who is also the head of the CIIU, provide proof of when they agreed to take the investigation externally after the CIIU received a stack of documents anonymously alerting them to tender irregularities within the metro.

On Monday morning the court proceedings continued where it left off on Thursday. It received the tender agreement between the IFS and the CIIU on the investigation among a stack of documents.

But Naidoo told the court that the tender agreement document lacked a section where it shows how much money was paid to the IFS.

Ngcobo was asked to leave the witness stand and the courtroom for a while.

Naidoo further told the court that the correct procedures were not followed in order for the investigation to take place.

He further claimed Ngcobo did not do his job properly, “all he did was to smear Gumede”.

“He did not follow the right procedures, he took short cuts so that he could say the investigation must take place because he had a target and wanted the arrest to take place,” Naidoo contended.

He claimed there was no document provided to the court stating that the investigation must be taken externally (to the police).

“As the defence, we believe that the manner in which the investigation took place was rushed and not properly conducted,” Naidoo said.

He told the court that Ngcobo had signed for the investigation to take place on March 8, 2018, internally by the CIIU, but on March 12, 2018, it was given to the IFS.

Things took a different turn when the State admitted that there were no documents to prove that both the IFS and CIIU had agreed to refer the investigation to the police.

The State admitted that there were no minutes of the meeting, which Ngcobo said would be made available to the court on Thursday.

When Ngcobo was asked to return to the witness stand, he first insisted that there were documents and minutes of the meeting at which they all agreed to take the investigation further.

“There was a report which was used as a reference.

“When the team received the allegations they realised that one of the accused was in another case which had been concluded.

“One of the leading investigators in that matter was threatened and she ended up leaving, and that’s why we decided that this one gets investigated externally,” Ngcobo pointed out.

Ngcobo repeatedly said that his team had advanced reasons for the matter to be investigated externally.

Naidoo continued to cross-examine him and eventually, he conceded that there were no such documents.

“There are no minutes of the meeting,” Ngcobo said.

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