WATCH: Zandile Gumede says battle not over, prays Covid-19 does not kill her before ’truth is known’
Durban – Corruption accused former eThekwini mayor and ANC MPL in the KZN legislature, Zandile Gumede, has downplayed her legal team's failure to get her high stakes case struck off the roll.
On Thursday, Gumede and 16 others (including suspended eThekwini city manager, Sipho Nzuza), were at the Durban commercial crimes court to face charges linked to a R430 million waste tender issued by the eThekwini municipality in 2017, while she was mayor.
The State alleges the tender was rigged, Gumede had a hand in it and allegedly benefited financially.
Gumede and her lawyers went to court with the intention to get the case struck off the roll if the State was not ready to proceed. But the State prosecutor, Ashiken Lucken took the podium first and told the presiding magistrate Dawn Somaroo they were tying the loose ends of the case.
Lucken requested three more months to receive a large forensic report which would help them to formulate specific charges. She assured the magistrate they would be done by that time. That surprised Advocate Jay Naidoo, who was representing Gumede, and had a mandate to lodge the application.
The arguments then moved to what if the State was not ready by the time the case returned to court. Somaroo eventually ruled the matter be postponed to December 10 this year. She said the State, if for whatever reason, was not done with the forensic report, it must, two weeks before the December date, inform the defence lawyers and clearly state why it was not ready.
That would enable the defence, when the case returned to court, to then argue for the case to be struck off the roll based on the reasons given by the State.
Gumede told her supporters outside the Durban Magistrate’s Court that it was too early to write her wish off.
Speaking in Zulu and surrounded by her team of long-time ANC loyalists, which included Mzomuhle Dube (spokesperson for her supporters) and Zama Sokhabase, the regional secretary of the ANC women’s league in eThekwini, Gumede took issue with the media for reporting the bid had failed.
“To you media people who have already started reporting that I have failed to get the case struck off the roll, not all of them, hear me out very well, there are those who have already reported that Mama Zandile got her case off the court roll. That was early for them to start laughing. All the lawyers, including mine and those of Mondli (Mthembu, a co-accused) are in agreement that the matter is struck off the roll,” she said.
She told her supporters it was strange the State had not preferred any charges against them.
“Even now, the prosecutor has not spelt out any charges,” she said.
She then said she hoped to survive Covid-19 and live to see the “truth finally coming out regarding the case".
“May God keep us, may we survive from Covid-19 until the truth comes out so that even the next generation knows that if you work for the people’s party (the ANC) with honesty, capitalists will persecute you,” she said.
Meanwhile, the court heard how an allegedly unethical Hawks investigator induced Nzuza’s mother by bringing her fruits and vegetables before obtaining her statement.
The Hawks required the statement from the 84-year-old pensioner to collaborate claims that the Durban north home she lives in was bought by one of the co-accused in the case and the money was a kickback to Nzuza for awarding the tender.