Witness ‘never promised’ to pay contractor

Former City manager of eThekwini municipality Sipho Nzuza, accused two Mondli Mthembu and former mayor of the City Zandile Gumede. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Former City manager of eThekwini municipality Sipho Nzuza, accused two Mondli Mthembu and former mayor of the City Zandile Gumede. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Published Nov 28, 2023


Durban — A State witness denied on Monday at the Durban High Court that he offered to pay Omphile Thabang Projects in 2019 when it did not collect waste around the City in the racketeering, money laundering and corruption trial involving eThekwini municipality former City manager Sipho Nzuza and former mayor Zandile Gumede.

Omphile Thabang Projects is the alleged juristic entity appointed as one of the four main contractors in respect of the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) tender. The company is accused number 17 and the directors, Bongani Dlomo and Khoboso Dlomo are accused 15 and 16.

During the cross-examination of a former municipal official, defence advocate, Graham Kerr-Phillips, representing the Dlomos and their company, produced emails from Bongani where he wanted to terminate his contract of collecting waste around the city after the Hawks raided his home in 2019. He said the witness promised Dlomo that he would be paid for the time his company was not rendering its services.

However, before he produced the emails, Kerr-Phillips asked the witness if he remembered when he met his client. The witness said yes. The witness told the court that he could not recall the date as it had been a long time. He said there was a time when his personal assistant told him there was a distraught gentleman who wanted to talk to him. He said he usually met people through appointments, but this was an urgent matter.

“I offered him a seat in my office. He was visibly upset, he was in tears. I told him to compose himself. He told me he was embarrassed by Hawks or Scorpions who had raided his home in front of his family,” said the witness.

He said Bongani had told him he wanted to terminate the contract he had with the City to collect waste. However, the witness said there was not much he could do because there was only one month remaining before the end of their contract. However, Kerr-Phillips showed emails to the court in which, in March, Bongani had been trying to get in touch with the DSW unit after the Hawks raided his home, but there was no response.

He said Bongani then sent an email to the deputy head of DSW saying he was terminating his contract. He said his client received a call an hour later and a meeting was arranged.

“He told the deputy head about his home being raided and that he could not continue to work in this way,” said Kerr-Phillips.

He further said his client then met the witness in April and the witness assured him that his contract to collect waste would be extended and that he was going to be paid for the period he did not work as he wanted to terminate his contract.

“What is your comment about that?” asked Kerr-Phillips.

The witness told the court he could not recall this, but it was not possible for the municipality to pay someone without their invoices. Judge Sharmaine Balton asked for clarity and the witness said he denied this claim.

All of this happened while the investigations about the solid waste tender had started and some of municipal workers had been interviewed by the Hawks.

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