Defence grills State witness in Gumede corruption case

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and others appear at the Durban High Court. Tumi Pakkies/ Independent Newspapers

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and others appear at the Durban High Court. Tumi Pakkies/ Independent Newspapers

Published Nov 23, 2023


Durban — The defence closed in on a State witness in the fraud and corruption trial of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and others in the Durban High Court.

The State witness – who may not be named on court instructions – is under cross-examination by defence attorney advocate Jay Naidoo, who is representing Gumede and other accused.

Naidoo asked the witness why there were no plans to complete the process of awarding a solid waste tender by December 31 in 2017, when they published an advert for Section 36 contracts.

Before the 475 companies started bidding there were allegedly 1 300 companies bidding for the tender in the first half of 2017.

The witness said that December 13, 2017, was the last day for the submission of tender documents for bidding. He said the Cleansing Solid Waste (CSW) unit made plans to complete the process during the festive season. He said the discussions started with the manager: admin who dealt with tenders on how they would approach the process.

“There was urgency as we were all aware of the holidays, including Christmas. I would have created six teams to work continuously to have the process completed,” he said.

The witness said because of Section 36 there would have been no appeals. However, he said all his efforts were futile as accused four, Allan Robert Abbu, had other plans as the head of special projects.

Naidoo told him that it was physically impossible for the witness and his team to finish the whole process in 17 days.

He asked him if they were expecting to get 475 applications for the tender when they advertised it. The witness said no. Naidoo asked him if he thought they could finish the tender process in 17 days. The witness said yes and insisted that they had plans for this.

Naidoo asked why he and his team did not have the same morale to deal with 1 300 tender bids three months earlier in 2017, as they were prepared for the 475 bids in December. “It was too big a difference. Abbu had complete control of the 1300 bids,” he said.

The accused are facing more than 2000 charges, including conspiracy to commit corruption, corruption, fraud, money laundering, racketeering, contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act, and of the Municipal Systems Act, in relation to a R300 million CSW contract.

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