Suspended ANC Dr WB Rubusana Regional Secretary Pumlani Mkolo and Buffalo City Metro councillor Luleka Simon-Ndzele at East London Magistrate's Court. PHOTO: ANA

EAST LONDON - Eleven accused in the Nelson Mandela funeral scandal appeared in East London Magistrate's Court on Wednesday. 

The accused include former Buffalo City Metro executive mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, her former deputy Themba Tinta, councillors Sindiswa Gomba, Luleka Simon-Ndzele, Ondela Mahlangu, a director at the mayor’s office, African National Congress (ANC) regional leader Pumlani Mkolo, and business people Nosiphiwo Mati, Zintle Nkuhlu, Viwe Vazi and Dean Fanoe, who along with their companies, are facing charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.

The suspects allegedly intended to defraud the municipality of R10 million and successfully transferred R5.9 million under the false pretense that it was meant for memorial service events for former president Mandela in December 2013. 

The rest of the amount [R4.1 million] was blocked by then municipal manager Andile Fani who was on leave when the original decision was taken. Fani then instituted an investigation which uncovered the scandal. 

The allegations led to removal of Ncitha and Tinta as the BCM mayor and deputy respectively, while and Simon-Ndzele was demoted from council Speaker to being an ordinary councillor.

Mkolo who is the ANC regional secretary was also suspended pending the outcome of the trial. 

Three of the 11 accused – Mkolo, Nkuhlu and Mati - successfully applied in November last year for their case to be separated from the rest. The three also applied for the charges against them to be withdrawn. 

Prosecutor Diniso Ketani on Wednesday told the court that the three had made oral representations to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) but that they had been requested to make them in writing. 

They will appear again on 19 October. The rest of the accused will appear at the same court for pre-trial conference on 18 October.

African News Agency (ANA)