File Photo: Clyde Robinson

Cape Town - An ex-Cope member appeared in a Cape Town court on Monday on charges of fraud, theft and money laundering.

The former parliamentary national treasurer of the political party, the Congress of the People, appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court.

Hildagrade Ndude was absent when her case was called last month before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg.

She faces 23 counts of fraud, six of money laundering and one of theft.

At Monday's proceedings, prosecutor Zama Matayi accepted the reason for her previous absence - that she had been to China on a business trip, and had tried unsuccessfully to communicate this to her lawyer at the time.

It transpired also that she had since terminated her previous lawyer's mandate, and had engaged another, Mustaph Parker.

With her in the dock was Irene Motha, who faces three fraud charges.

Cited in the charge sheet as accused number three was the company Sithaba Holdings (Pty) Ltd, of which Ndude was one of the directors.

The company is charged with three counts of money laundering.

The case was postponed to August 18, to enable Parker to consult Ndude.

At the next appearance, Parker is expected to inform the court whether Ndude is to plead guilty to the charges, or whether the case is to proceed to trial.

According to the charge sheet, Motha was Ndude's personal assistant in Parliament.

According to the charge sheet, Cope had two main sources of funding from the National Parliament, pro rata to the number of seats that Cope occupies in Parliament, and from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), for the purposes of functioning within the political sphere in the country.

In both cases, the funding is from taxpayers' money, both have to have their individual bank accounts, and are accounted for individually.

Ndude was the principal signatory for both accounts, together with the president of Cope, Mosiuoa Lekota.

According to the charge sheet, Ndude was Cope's financial political head, and as the national treasurer had to ensure transparent management of Cope's affairs.

The prosecutor alleges that she and Motha manipulated Cope's electronic system to divert payments meant for suppliers into their own personal bank accounts, between April 2010 and May 2011.