DURBAN – Graft-accused Durban mayor Zandile Gumede and senior councillor Mondli Mthembu are being investigated for a breach of their bail conditions, the Hawks and NPA said on Friday.
Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, told African News Agency (ANA) that Gumede and Mthembu were being investigated.
“We are [investigating], because we have seen it through the media and we have also been observing. But for now, there is no affidavit that has been deposed regarding the bail conditions being broken. But yes, we can confirm that we are investigating both,” said Mulaudzi.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) told ANA on Thursday, “The investigating officers of the case are conducting their own independent investigations on the alleged non-adherence to bail conditions.
“Secondly, the investigating officers are responsible for ensuring that the bail conditions are adhered to and the municipality will assist them,” KwaZulu-Natal’s acting director for public prosecutions, Elaine Zungu, told ANA.
Gumede, Mthembu and businessman Craig Poonan appeared at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on May 14 for their alleged roles in tender fraud relating to a R208 million Durban Solid Waste (DSW) contract dating back to 2016.
The trio was released on bail of R50,000 each and will appear at the same court again in August along with nine other suspects who were arrested earlier in May.
Gumede and Mthembu were released on strict bail conditions. The conditions forbid them from communicating with any officials linked to auditing at DSW, anyone involved in supply chain management, any legal or financial employees in the KZN metro, or with any of its operating staff.
But on Tuesday this week, Mthembu, who chairs the city’s human settlements and infrastructure committee, presided over the committee’s meeting at city hall.
This was done despite the DA and IFP councillors asking Mthembu to step aside and let someone else chair the meeting as one of the reports being presented and up for discussion was DSW’s performance and monitoring report for March 2019.
An official from the city’s legal department, when called on by Mthembu to give an opinion, said while he had not seen the bail conditions, it was his interpretation that the onus was on the accused to keep within the conditions.
“It is your prerogative to make a decision,” said the official.
Mthembu replied: “Let’s proceed with the meeting,” at which stage the DA left the meeting.
The ANC councillors on the committee supported Mthembu not stepping aside.
Last week, Gumede presided over an executive committee meeting and a full council meeting – Mthembu was also present at both - where she presented the city’s R50.6 billion budget. She too was asked to step aside by opposition councillors but refused. ANC councillors also backed Gumede at those meetings.
On Friday, the DA in eThekwini said it was “deeply concerned” at the ANC’s lack of response on the issue of Gumede.
“Despite repeated media reports that action would be taken and she would be fired, the ANC has once again failed the people of eThekwini as Gumede remains in office 24 days after her arrest,” said DA eThekwini caucus leader, Nicole Graham.
On Friday evening, ANC KZN secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli told ANA in response to Graham’s statement: “The ANC provincial leadership is handling this matter and will be making its attitude known within the next seven days. When comrades get arrested the ANC gives them a certain period of time to compile a detailed report and account relating to their case so as to inform the organisation,” said Ntuli.