Defence tells witness he should be charged in Gumede trial

Former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: Tumi Pakkies

Former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede. Picture: Tumi Pakkies

Published Nov 22, 2023


Durban — A State witness was on Tuesday told he should be one of the accused in the money laundering, racketeering and fraud trial over a Solid Waste Tender involving former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede.

The 22 accused are facing more than 2 000 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 DSW contract.

Gumede’s lawyer, advocate Jay Naidoo, told the State witness on Tuesday in the Durban High Court that he perpetuated the racketeering when he extended the contracts of those who were collecting waste around the City for 2019.

The State witness, who cannot be named for safety reasons as per the court’s order, said the contracts were extended because it made financial sense and it was impractical for the City to start new contractors at the time.

Naidoo, who is also representing other accused in this matter, asked him if he was the one who signed for the contracts to be extended. And if he did, was it done as an official senior in his department or signed on behalf of accused four, Allan Robert Abbu?

The witness replied that in December and January, illegal dumping increases around the City and it’s a critical time. He said the national elections were also approaching in 2019, which is why the contracts were extended from December 2018 to June 2019.

“We could not have elections in a dirty city. It was impractical for us to start new contractors,” he said.

The court learnt that during this time 1 300 companies were bidding for the solid waste tender. Moreover, Naidoo put it to the State witness that he was also involved in racketeering as he continued to extend the contracts while he knew it was wrong.

The witness had earlier told the court he wished he could have stopped these contractors who were collecting waste around the city, as the money they were claiming for their services was huge and he was uncomfortable signing their invoices. He had said he was not involved during the process of awarding the tender to the companies, but accused Abbu, who was the deputy head of Durban Solid Waste.

He said when Abbu was supposed to sign the invoices he was not available, which meant he was the one who should sign.

“I wish I could have done that but there was burning of trucks, protests and disruptions in the townships. If I stopped these contractors, the townships would be unstable, the situation was going to be worse. We were going to be in trouble,” said the witness.

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