DURBAN – Supporters of criminally charged Durban mayor Zandile Gumede were singing and protesting outside the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Thursday morning as they awaited her second appearance on fraud and corruption charges.
Gumede and her co-accused are set to appear after 9am at the regional court, which is based inside the magistrate’s court building. There was a strong police presence inside the court building and in the grounds.
The supporters pitched a tent overnight and held a night vigil for Gumede, with pastors leading prayers. Earlier on Wednesday evening, the mayor attended a prayer service in KwaMashu.
Gumede is currently out on R50 000 bail relating to a R208 million Durban Solid Waste (DSW) tender from 2016.
She is set to appear alongside senior eThekwini councillor Mondli Mthembu, DSW’s deputy head for strategic and new developments Robert Abbu, and the city’s supply chain manager and chairman of the bid adjudication committee Sandile Ngcobo.
The remainder of those charged are companies, and will be represented in court by their owners.
The accused are all facing charges of fraud, fraud by omission, corruption, contravention of the Municipal Financial Management Act, contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, contravention of the Organised Crime Act and contravention of the Local Government Municipal Act.
Gumede and Mthembu are further facing charges for contravention of the Riotous Assemblies Act for allegedly instigating an illegal gathering in April in which supporters called for the axing of city manager Sipho Nzuza after he refused to sign off on payments for the dodgy contract.
It is alleged that Nzuza has turned state witness.
Mzo Dube, who is the coordinator of the protests by Gumede supporters, told African News Agency (ANA) that he wasn’t sure what to expect from the court appearance, but had noted “hurdles” along the way.
“One is that there are no formal charges that have actually been presented to the mayor.
“We have also learnt of the dubious and propagandist way that the Hawks have conducted themselves,” said Dube.
He was referring to information that came to light on Wednesday night that a Hawks investigator in the KwaZulu-Natal clean audit task team investigating tender fraud in the province – including Gumede’s case - had survived what appeared to be a hit last week.
Thursday’s appearance is expected to be brief and a postponement is likely for further investigation.
African News Agency (ANA)