- The trial of Zandile Gumede and others is likely to only commence in 2022.
- She appeared for the first time in the Durban High Court on Monday, together with a large group of supporters.
- She did not address her supporters following her court appearance.
The trial date for embattled KwaZulu-Natal legislature MPL and former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede is likely to only commence in 2022.
This was what the Durban High Court heard on Monday as Gumede and 21 other accused including her colleague Mondli Mthembu appeared before Judge Achmat Jappie.
Gumede and 21 others, mainly officials and companies as well as their owners involved in allegedly plundering eThekwini Metro coffers, are facing a combined 2 793 criminal charges.
These include theft, money laundering, fraud and corruption, as well as contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act.
Supporters at the Durban High Court during Gumede's appearance. Gallo Images/Darren Stewart
Gumede, who was dressed in a formal red dress appeared upbeat and confident as she entered the courtroom and stood in the dock.
The State, represented by Senior State Advocate Ashika Lucken handed in an amended indictment to the court with the addition of racketeering charges against the accused.
The matter was postponed to 30 November 2021 for a request and response for further particulars by the parties.
The court also set down a possible trial date for 18 July 2022.
Zandile Gumede appears at the Durban High Court on Monday. Gallo Images/Darren Stewart
Jay Naidoo for Gumede said they were ready to go to trial.
"We will make a request for further particulars of the new indictment by 16 August."
He said that while the State could change the indictment until the accused pleads, he was glad the charges appeared to be finalised.
"The state is entitled to amend the indictment right up and until such time that the accused plea, but justice and equity demands they say to us that this is the final charge sheet and it is not going to change.
"They've given that undertaking in court today. Now we know that (this) is the final indictment and those are the charges."
Zandile Gumede's supporters at the Durban High Court.Gallo Images/Darren Stewart
Outside court, following proceedings, Gumede was a no-show. Earlier in the day, her spokesperson Ntando Khuzwayo said that if more than 250 people gathered outside court, she would not be able to address them due to Covid-19 regulations.
A large crowd turned up, this after a marquee, stage and chairs were set up for a group of people that were bused in to show Gumede support. The crowd however lacked Covid-19 protocols with many walking around without masks. There was little social distancing with many seated directly next to one another.
Despite any lack of evidence, Gumede previously stated the case against her was a political ploy.
The charges against her emanate from a R320-million waste contract issued by the eThekwini municipality in 2017 while Gumede was the mayor.
In total, the eThekwini Metro paid R320 million to the four main companies between December 2017 and July 2019 - whereas the initial budget for the project was R45 million over three months.
Gumede, who has abided by the step-aside rule initiated by the ANC on criminally accused individuals still intends contesting leadership in the ANC eThekwini Region, the region with one of the highest numbers of branches in the ANC nationally.