Uncertain of her fate, Zandile Gumede returns to court over corruption charges
Durban - Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede will on Wednesday morning return to the Durban commercial crimes court to face the music over alleged corruption charges.
However, Gumede will return to the court uncertain of what will happen to the case which was postponed in August last year to allow the Hawks to conclude its investigation.
Gumede, who is out on R50 000 bail, told Independent Media on Tuesday that the last time she spoke to her legal team, they told her that they will get to know about the National Prosecution Authority’s (NPA) next move when they get to court.
“When I spoke to my lawyers this morning (Tuesday), they told me that they have no clue of how the case will proceed because the prosecution team refused to tell them what is their next move. We will go to court and know from there what their next move is. For now, we are in the dark,” Gumede said, adding that the NPA was yet to serve with specific counts of her case.
Gumede said she will “definitely” address her supporters after the court appearance. “That is given. I will address them immediately after the court appearance,” she said in Zulu.
There are widespread speculations that the NPA will ask for another postponement while still racing against time to tie up loose ends.
In the last court appearance in August last year, senior State prosecutor Ashika Lucken told the court that there were 286 subpoenas and used that as a basis for asking for a postponement to January 15, 2020.
The spokesperson of the NPA in KZN, Natasha Kara, was yet to respond to queries on whether they were ready to proceed with the trial or they will request another postponement.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Muluadzi referred all queries to the NPA, saying the matter now falls within their jurisdiction.
Any postponement is likely to anger Gumede’s backers who on Monday issued a statement and claimed that the prosecution of Gumede, Mondli Mthembu (former eThekwini deputy regional secretary) and a host of other accused, was a political persecution by the state.
The supporters claimed that this is done in order to disrupt and divide the ANC eThekwini region ahead of local government elections.
Gumede was arrested in May last year after months of speculation. The state accuses her and the others of illegally benefiting from R208 waste tender that was issued by eThekwini municipality in 2017 while she was the mayor.
Political analyst Xolani Dube said he expects Gumede’s supporters to swarm the court on Wednesday as she is still powerful in the region and wields some influence. He said notwithstanding the fact that Gumede is no longer a mayor, her backers still see her as a tool that can be used to bargain for positions when the three factions meet to negotiate a unity slate.
“Gumede is now on the ground and that's why she has become so influential. By being a task team member she is in a position to decide who is going to be the next chairperson, who is going to be the next REC (regional executive committee members. So she is more powerful than before now,” Dube said.