‘There has to be time limits’: Further delays in Zandile Gumede corruption case angers judge

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede is facing charges of corruption.

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede is facing charges of corruption.
PHOTO: Darren Stewart, Gallo Images
  • Judge Sharmaine Balton was angry when she had to postpone the corruption case of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and others again.
  • The case had to be postponed when one of the defence lawyers admitted that he was not prepared and had not even seen the amended indictment.
  • Balton reluctantly postponed the matter to 22 August.

Another delay in the corruption case of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede has raised the ire of the judge presiding over the matter in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban.

This time, the case had to be postponed to accommodate a lawyer representing Bongani Dlomo, Khoboso Dlomo and their company, Omphile Thabang Project, because he wasn’t ready to proceed. In fact, the lawyer, Mlamli Magigaba, admitted that he hadn’t even seen the amended indictment.

READ | ‘We are ready to go’: State left bemused as Zandile Gumede corruption trial stalls again

This angered Judge Sharmaine Balton.

“You accepted the brief to appear. So, when you did so, you knew you needed to be ready. It is unfortunate that this has happened.”

When Magigaba told Balton that he could not say when he would be ready, she responded:

There has to be time limits. It is prejudiced to the other accused. We cannot waste time now…

She added: “There is no other time for this matter, and we were hoping to at least read the charges during this session.”

She said the charges were meant to be read out on Thursday.

After the matter stood down briefly, Balton returned and postponed it to 22 August.

There have been several delays in the case in recent weeks and most of them were brought about by the accused’s financial troubles, which led to their failure to pay some of Durban’s most expensive criminal lawyers.

The trial is set down for early 2023.

Gumede, councillor Mondli Mthembu and others are accused of colluding with corporate entities and others to circumvent the outcome of the supply chain management protocols of the eThekwini municipality.

It is alleged that Gumede gave instructions to the bid specification committee, bid adjudication committee and bid evaluation committee, despite the fact that mayors are not allowed to be involved in tender specification processes.

To date, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has seized several assets from the accused.

The ANC removed Gumede and other senior party members from the decision-making executive committee of eThekwini in September 2019, after the party asked her to resign a month before.

She remains a member of the legislature in KwaZulu-Natal.