Embattled eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said the truth would be revealed about the corruption-related charges against her in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court.
“What I will say is that the truth shall be revealed. We would never allow the eThekwini metro to fall into the wrong hands. That [is] why as branches, we need to be strong to ensure that our metro remains strong because there are people who are eyeing it,” she said outside the court on Thursday.
Gumede and her co-accused appeared in a packed courtroom where there was a barrage of security officials and supporters.
She was arrested earlier this year on charges of fraud and corruption.
The nine other accused are eThekwini municipality deputy head of strategy and new development Robert Abbu, 62, supply chain manager Sandile Ngcobo, 41, Hlenga Sibisi, 43, Mzwandile Dludla, 24, Sinthamone Ponnan, 55, Sithulele Mkhize, 38, Bongani Dlomo, 53, and 61-year-old Prabagaram Pariah.
The allegations of fraud and corruption are related to a 2016 R208m Durban Solid Waste tender where service providers were allegedly paid huge amounts of money even though they did not render any service.
Speaking on Gumede’s behalf during proceedings, lawyer Jimmy Howse – who has represented the likes of political heavyweight Mike Mabuyakhulu – called for the relaxing of bail conditions.
He said the conditions – which prevent her from interfering with supply chain matters, the waste department, finance department, human resources department and legal department – were vague at best.
“There is ambiguity and it is preventing her from performing her duties as mayor.”
He called for the wording of the bail conditions to be amended so she could do her job.
Prosecutor Ashika Lucken was, however, quick to correct Howse, saying Gumede was being prevented from intimidating staff.
“The intention is not to prevent [the] mayor from doing her duties but to restrict her involvement in intimidation.”
Howse stated that Gumede had been arrested prematurely.
“All she has is a meaningless charge unsupported by evidence. It does not explain the basis on which they (the charges) are made.” He said the investigating officer accused Gumede of playing a “major role” in corruption but did not say what the role was.
Responding, Lucken said that further arrests were expected and reminded Howse that Gumede had been implicated in allegations of the intimidation of municipal staff.
“I submit that the duration of the investigation will last four more months. We have already issued over 200 subpoenas. We have around 25 or so more that will be issued.”
The matter is expected to return to court on January 15, 2020.