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Cheerful Zandile Gumede sings, dances as corruption trial wraps up for 2023


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Cheerful Zandile Gumede sings, dances as corruption trial wraps up for 2023

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede
Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede

29th November 2023

By: News24Wire


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Despite a long road ahead, corruption-accused former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede was in high spirits as she left the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban for the last time in 2023.

Her case was postponed to January 2024 for the State to review the defence lawyers' cross-examination.


Gumede, who previously suffered an emotional breakdown in court, said she was "happy today (Tuesday)".

She broke down on 15 November while delays and postponements were being discussed in court, where she said: "God, I'd rather die. This prosecutor is playing with me."


However, on Tuesday, she was in better spirits as she left the court building, greeting a small group of supporters before singing and dancing with them.

Gumede's joy could be because Judge Sharmaine Balton's ire was once again raised after the State said it was not ready to proceed following cross-examination.

Defence lawyers completed their questioning of a senior eThekwini official who had been testifying since July.

But once the last lawyer concluded the cross-examination, prosecutor Ashika Lucken requested more time to commence the re-examination of the official, saying she was not in a position to do so.

Balton immediately grew angry, telling Lucken the State should be ready the moment cross-examination concluded.

"Your re-examination should have been ready. You must go along with the cross-examination. This is a massive inconvenience on the court roll," she said.

Lucken added she needed time to finalise documents, saying some exhibits handed in by the defence lawyers were incomplete and she was waiting on original documents.

"I will only require one day. I am sure of that," she told an irate Balton.

Gumede's lawyer, advocate Jay Naidoo, said the State should not be allowed to try to introduce new evidence.

He said they should not be able to consult with the senior eThekwini official before re-examination.

Balton assured him the court would not allow either.

She said she would reluctantly grant the postponement until 22 January 2024, but was scathing in her criticism of the State.

"People will blame the judge, but look at this, it is the State who is at fault here today [Tuesday]."

Balton added the State effectively wasted half a day due to the postponement.

"Now we see what brings on the delays," she lamented.

An end to a tumultuous year

The conclusion of the final session of the trial on Tuesday brought an end to a tumultuous year for a trial that seeks to prove racketeering, fraud and corruption charges against Gumede and 21 other accused.

The State alleged Gumede used her position of power as the former mayor of eThekwini to manipulate the tender processes and siphon public funds in the Durban Solid Waste unit (DSW) valued at more than R320-million into the pockets of politicians, and her preferred contractors.

Much of the evidence in the latest bloc of cross-examination focused on a senior eThekwini official in the DSW and his relationship with one of the main accused, Robert Abbu, the former head of special projects and the official's one-time subordinate.

The court heard how their relationship soured after Abbu was promoted to head of special projects, effectively making him parallel to the senior official, his boss.

There has also been testimony about the nature of the relationship between Abbu and the senior official, with the official stating they had a cordial and long-standing relationship, even after Abbu's promotion.

However, Abbu's lawyer, Griffiths Madonsela, last week put it to the witness he was unhappy with the promotion.

The official responded he was not envious, and he was merely unsatisfied with not knowing the nature of the work that was being conducted at DSW.

Around 2017, much of Durban was plunged in chaos as illegal dumping and trash were strewn on the streets.

In Umlazi in particular, the metro battled to collect refuse due to protests, the burning of DSW trucks and staff being threatened. 



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