eThekwini municipality city manager Sipho Nzuza has appeared in court after being arrested by the Hawks in connection with the R389-million Durban Solid Waste tender fraud case.
Nzuza, who became city manager in 2017, was granted bail of R50 000 in the Durban magistrate’s court on Tuesday morning after being charged for the alleged tender fraud, for which former mayor Zandile Gumede and a network of councillors, officials and contractors were arrested last year.
Nzuza is understood to have previously agreed to turn state witness against Gumede and the other accused, the first of whom were arrested by the Hawks ahead of last May’s national and provincial elections.
The brief court appearance saw Nzuza join as an accused, together with the 22 other people arrested since last year.
Gumede, ANC councillor Mondli Mthembu and contractor Craig Ponnan were arrested, together with Durban Solid Waste deputy head Robert Abbu and supply-chain head Sandile Ngcobo. Several other councillors, officials and contractors have subsequently been arrested over the scam, which saw the city paying for waste-removal services which were never delivered.
Corruption, fraud and racketeering
The accused are facing charges of corruption and fraud and for contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act, racketeering and contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act.
They were arrested by the Hawks clean audit task team after an internal city investigation uncovered the fraud.
During their last court appearance in February, the state indicated that it had secured documents that showed the amount stolen from the city had risen from R208-million to R389-million.
None of the city spokespeople, nor mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, responded to the Mail & Guardian’s calls this morning.
Nzuza will join Gumede and the other accused in court when they appear again on April 16. His bail conditions include that he not go to his office in Durban’s City Hall until the end of the trial. It is not clear yet what action the city will take.
The ANC recalled Gumede and her executive committee over poor performance, and suspended the eThekwini regional executive committee, of which she was chairperson.
But she will attempt to make her way back to the mayor’s parlour by contesting the ANC chair’s post at the regional conference next month.