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Another spanner in the works as Zandile Gumede corruption trial is postponed to next year

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Nov 30, 2021

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Durban - Yet another request for further particulars by some suspects implicated in the corruption trial involving former eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede and 21 others has forced the matter to be postponed to late March next year.

The matter on Tuesday returned to the Durban High Court following a five-month hiatus with the lawyer of Gumede, advocate Jay Naidoo boldly saying he expected no further hurdle.

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But that was not the case as when it resumed, some of the accused (Not Gumede) made further legal representations asking for further particulars to prepare their defence strategies.

That forced the matter to be postponed until March 29, to give the State a chance to exchange the information with those who have requested it.

Briefing the media outside the court as it was barred from covering by court officials who cited overcrowding of the courtroom, the spokesperson of the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) in KwaZulu-Natal, Natasha Kara, said despite this postponement, the July-September 2022 date to hear oral evidence of the case would likely not be affected.

“So today when we resumed the matter in court the State did put on record that we have received the previous particulars requests (for information) and we have acceded to those and we have responded to those and we did put it on record that we are ready for trial. However, during the proceedings, we found that further legal representations now require requests for further particulars as well. So, given that and obviously, these are pre-trial issues that need to be ironed before we could proceed to trial.

“So while it may seem like a, I wouldn’t call it a stumbling block, but obviously these issues we have to iron out so that when we get to trial it’s a successful trial. So it is for that reason that matter was postponed to the 29th of March, actually the 29 and the 30th for us to resolve those issues, for the State and the defence counsels… prior to that to sort of exchange their request and the State to respond so that when we do return to court on those dates we can hopefully then … get tentative dates for July. So hopefully we are looking to preserve those dates, hopefully, by the 30th of March have a resolution so that by then move to trial,” Kara said outside court.

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The high-profile corruption trial which has 55 State witnesses started in early May 2019 when the Hawks pounced on Gumede and later the others, accusing them of pocketing bribes after issuing a R320 million waste contract in 2017.

In its 397-page docket with financial transactions, the State alleges that Gumede, former city manager Sipho Nzuza and others were involved in a criminal enterprise to fleece eThekwini metro of millions.

Video: Sihle Mavuso/IOL Politics

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The State is also trying to prove how Gumede and Nzuza, among others, allegedly received kickbacks from service providers who were roped in to collect waste.

Some of the beneficiaries of the money were allegedly Gumede’s daughter and relatives whose home renovations were allegedly funded by some of the companies that had won the contract. On Nzuza’s part, one of the winning companies allegedly footed the bill when he bought a lavish home for his mother in uMhlanga in the north of Durban.

Fuming after the postponement, Ntando Khuzwayo, the spokesperson of supporters of Gumede who had gathered outside the court to show solidarity, said they knew that the State was not ready.

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“It is exactly what I told you in the morning, I said the State was not ready and indeed the State turns out not be ready,” Khuzwayo said.

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Political Bureau

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