Lawyers may apply to have Zandile Gumede charges struck off the roll
The former eThekwini Region chairperson had yesterday appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court together with her 16 co-accused in relation to the city’s R389 million solid waste tender. But the matter was postponed until September10, apparently as the state wanted more time to collect evidence in the form of cellphone records and bank statements.
The Hawks arrested Gumede and some of her co-accused in May last year as part of their National Clean Audit Task Team launched into Durban Solid Waste in which some businesses were allegedly paid for services they did not provide.
“They (the State) believed that within six weeks they will finalise the investigation, (but) if they don’t then we will bring an application for the matter to be struck off the roll until the investigations are complete,” said Gumede’s lawyer, advocate Jay Naidoo.
The accused were granted bail of up to R50000 after their arrests. It emerged when they appeared in court in April this year that the state was not ready for the trial as it was still going through information obtained during a raid at the accuseds’ premises earlier this year.
Due to Covid-19 physical-distancing regulations, journalists and some of Gumede’s supporters were asked to leave the courtroom.
Despite the ban on large gatherings, Gumede’s supporters gathered outside court carrying placards with messages of support for her. Some ANC Women’s League leaders, including their regional secretary Zama Sokhabase, also had to wait outside the courtroom.
Naidoo, who also represented solid waste’s deputy head of strategy and new development, Robert Abbu, and former chairperson of the infrastructure committee, Mondli Mthembu, said the accused had not obtained charges against them.
“What they (the State) gave us is the draft of the charges, but that is likely to change because the investigations are not complete, they have not received the bank statements and cellphone records,” said Naidoo.
He said prior to the magistrate granting the postponement, he indicated to the court that he had intended to apply for section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Act to get the matter struck off the roll.
“In the event that they don’t have all that information, and the investigations are not complete, we will be bringing an application in terms of section 342 for the matter to be struck off the roll until the investigations are complete.” He said the state had told the court it was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic from completing its investigation.