Cross-examined witness to produce further evidence in Gumede trial

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and her co-accused, Mondli Mthembu, Sipho Nzuza, Robert Abbu, Sandile Ngcobo and others. Picture: Anelisa Kubheka

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and her co-accused, Mondli Mthembu, Sipho Nzuza, Robert Abbu, Sandile Ngcobo and others. Picture: Anelisa Kubheka

Published Feb 29, 2024


Durban — Further evidence that had previously not been part of what has been led so far in the R300 million Durban Solid Waste (DSW) corruption, fraud and money laundering trial under way in the Durban High Court will be provided.

These further documents are to be provided to the court today (on Thursday) by a State witness who drafted tender award letters to four accused companies.

The documents relate to some information contained in the letters that the witness, who had been employed as an administrator and verifier attached to tenders and contracts in 2017, said she had received from her supervisor.

The trial is against former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, 17 others, and four companies who were the main contractors in the DSW tender in question.

Among the accused are Mondli Mthembu (an executive councillor), Sipho Nzuza (former city manager), Robert Abbu (who was the deputy head at DSW), Sandile Ngcobo (former deputy head of Supply Chain Management) and Nzuza’s wife, Bagcinile.

In her evidence-in-chief on Tuesday, the witness testified that her supervisor had instructed her to urgently draft the letter as per the request of Ngcobo, adding that information on the letters had been extracted from the draft decisions from the bid adjudication committee that had been emailed to her by her supervisor.

Following her cross-examination on Wednesday, Judge Sharmaine Balton questioned the witness further on the contents of the letters for Ilanga LaMahlase Pty (Ltd), Uzuzinekele Trading 31 CC, Omphile Thabanga Projects and El Shaddai Holdings CC.

Judge Balton asked the witness where she had got the quotation dates on each of the letters as these were not in the decisions of the bid adjudication committee.

“I think that there are more documents that I used to write the letters. Yesterday I was helped to retrieve my emails to get documents. It was at that time that I also noted that there were some other documents my supervisor had given me that were not before the court. I didn’t know that these would be needed so I brought what was requested of me,” said the witness.

The employee could not be cross-examined on Tuesday due to outstanding documents. She had testified that the letters she had drafted and emailed to her supervisor were not signed, while the ones before court were and therefore she was asked to bring the exact letters she had sent her supervisor on 28 December 2017.

“You didn’t tell the court you might have had more documents when writing these letters. What you are indicating hasn’t been in the evidence you gave,” said Judge Balton, who asked the witness to return to court today (on Thursday) with these documents.

During cross-examination, advocate Jimmy Howse, representing Ngcobo, interrogated the witness on how she pinpointed which information to use in the letters as the decisions of the bid adjudication committee document were not only related to the DSW tender in question.

“Your supervisor’s email does not refer to any particular part of the document (decisions of the bid adjudication committee). There is lot 1 to 11. There is no indication in her email as to which lot you should type the letters from,” he said.

The witness explained that at the time she was instructed to write up the letters, there was just herself and her supervisor in the office.

“We have an open plan office. I think some of the things she said to me verbally. I just don’t have recollection of it,” said the witness.

In her cross-examination, it also emerged that she had received an email from investigators about making a statement which she also shared with a union representative.

The witness was asked to also bring this email correspondence with her today (on Thursday).

The trial continues.

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