Ethekwini municipality deputy head for supply chain management Sandile Ngcobo, with his advocate Willie Lombard, outside the Durban Commercial Crimes Court yesterday.
Ethekwini municipality deputy head for supply chain management Sandile Ngcobo, with his advocate Willie Lombard, outside the Durban Commercial Crimes Court yesterday.

Council fraud accused fights bail conditions

By THAMI MAGUBANE Time of article published Aug 8, 2019

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Durban - The deputy head of the supply chain management unit in eThekwini Municipality, Sandile Ngcobo, who is facing charges related to tender fraud, wants his bail conditions relaxed so he can return to work.

Ngcobo was given stringent bail conditions by magistrate Dawn Soomaroo in the Durban Commercial Crime Court earlier this year after he was arrested, along with other city employees, including Robert Abbu, deputy head of Durban Solid Waste (DSW), councillor Mondli Mthembu and mayor Zandile Gumede, in connection with an alleged dodgy R208million DSW tender.

In terms of his bail conditions, he was ordered not to enter the DSW and supply chain offices in Springfield Park, Anton Lembede Street and KE Masinga Road. He was also ordered not to return to his offices but to work from another office. He was barred from communicating with state witnesses or any of his subordinates and he was further ordered to liaise with his superiors via his legal representatives for work-related matters.

Ngcobo appeared in the Durban Commercial Crime Court yesterday morning where his lawyers argued that the bail conditions were too stringent and were endangering his career.

Yesterday, Ngcobo’s advocate Willie Lombard argued that they were so restrictive that Ngcobo was allocated no duties at work or work on an ad hoc basis and feared this could make him redundant and he could lose his job.

“He literally goes to work and sits there. He has no duties. We must remember that he is not under suspension and there are no disciplinary steps being taken (by his employer) against him,” said Lombard.

He said although Ngcobo’s legal team had been present when the bail conditions were negotiated, the conditions had unintended consequences.

Lombard said Ngcobo could work in other units and with other employees that were not linked to the DSW matter.

Prosecutor Ashika Lucken said the State was vehemently opposed to amending bail conditions as this had the potential to interfere with the Hawks’ investigation which was still ongoing. She said bail conditions were intended to protect the evidence and witnesses.

“We must remember that the state had said the investigation was far from complete. The arrests were only carried out because there were issues of intimidation and threats,” she said.

Lucken said as far as the State was aware, the municipality had moved Ngcobo to the Embassy building; he still had his laptop and data card and had also been offered a different position which he declined and the municipality was looking at other options for him.

She said there was also an acting deputy head for supply chain in Ngcobo’s position which could result in duplication of roles if he returned.

Soomaroo expressed concerns about Ngcobo’s possible return to the unit, saying it was the strategic cornerstone of the State’s investigation.

She ordered the parties, together with the municipality, to determine other options available to Ngcobo to be productive and for the State to investigate possible interference if he is placed in those units. She asked that the State find out how many different job placements Ngcobo had been offered and how many he had rejected.

The matter is back in court next month. Ngcobo has been excused from appearing with his co- accused in the Durban Commercial Crime Court today.

The Mercury

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