Former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede slapped with conditional arrest warrant
Durban - Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede has become the latest high profile political figure to be hit with a conditional warrant of arrest after failing to appear in court on Thursday.
Gumede and 17 others were scheduled to appear before the Durban magistrate to face corruption charges related to a waste tender scandal of 2017 in eThekwini Municipality. But because of the Covid-19 lockdown that has seen the country's courts only dealing with urgent and critical matters only, they did not appear.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) late on Thursday issued a statement announcing that despite prior arrangements having been made and communicated, there is a conditional warrant of arrest against Gumede and her co-accused.
“The matter of the State versus Zandile Gumede and others was on the court roll at the Durban Magistrates Court today. In consultation with the legal representative of the accused, it was agreed that warrants will be authorized but stayed until the next appearance court date arranged being 21 May 2020. No accused or legal representation was in court. Prior arrangements in this regard had been made,” the NPA said in a statement.
Gumede joins the likes of former President Jacob Zuma and EFF leader Julius Malema who have previously been slapped with warrants of arrests.
One of the two legal representatives of Gumede, Advocate Bulelani Mazomba, said there is nothing sinister with the stayed warrant of arrest. He explained it was standard procedure for the courts to issue warrants of arrests if an accused is not present in court for whatever reason.
“If an accused is not present in court the court must issue a warrant of arrest but that warrant of arrest is stayed if the reasons for the absence are valid. If the reasons advanced by the accused for not to be present in court are not convincing to the court, the warrant is issued and executed henceforth… So in this case there is no malice or something wrong with this one,” Mazomba said.
The courts have become one of the institutions affected by the lockdown restrictions since the measures were announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa late last month.
He extended the lockdown by two more weeks and the government is expected to lift the restrictions at the end of the month.