Durban - The fraud and corruption trial involving former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, former eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza and their co-accused finally got under way in the Durban High Court on Monday, with State advocate Hazel Siramen detailing a raft of charges against them.
The charges include racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering.
Siramen told the court that the State was ready to demonstrate that Gumede was at the top of a criminal enterprise, closely linked to the radical economic transformation (RET) faction of the ANC.
She said the State would demonstrate how millions of rand were channelled through a Durban Solid Waste (DSW) contract to companies with close links to Gumede.
In her presentation, Siramen told the court the State was ready to proceed with the case and would present a volume of evidence including: 112 witnesses, excluding those who may testify, if required, on the section 236 statements. Documentary evidence showing that the procurement processes followed in the appointment of the service providers concerned had not been compliant with eThekwini’s prescribed supply chain management policies and procedures, and those stipulated in related statutes. Evidence on the irregular procurement processes followed in the appointment of the service providers concerned. Interference with the administrative process relating to the operations of the various units within the municipality with reference to the DSW tender.
Evidence of cellphone records. Evidence of weighbridge slips and vehicle-tracking data.
Section 236 statements and bank records of all accused, as well as other individuals and entities. Analysis of the evidence relating to searches and seizures, cellphone records, vehicle tracking, weighbridge slips, and cash flow. Siramen told the court that the State would further demonstrate how four companies had shared a total of more than R320 million from the DSW contract.
According to the State, the DSW contract, which initially stood at R45m, had increased to R320m, and one of the reasons for this was that the service providers were charging the City for a greater volume of waste, which they claimed to have collected.
The State advocate told the court that at the conclusion of the presentation of evidence it would be clear that the accused were guilty of the charges they were facing.
Monday’s proceedings got off to a slow start, as some of the accused – Khoboso Dlomo and Sithamane Ponnan – could not attend the trial owing to ill health and had to take part virtually.
The State was expected to call its first witness to the stand today.
Senior ANC leaders in the eThekwini region, including regional secretary Musa Nciki, were among the figures who attended yesterday’s court proceedings to offer their support to Gumede.