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Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Ernest Khoza, former chief executive of the Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation, and his wife were among a group of people trapped in a lift at the Nelspruit magistrates' court building yesterday.

Khoza was due to appear on charges of fraud, corruption and contravening the Public Finance Management Act, but was still trapped when his name was called.

The matter was postponed to August 14 and 15.

The others trapped in the lift for half an hour with Khoza and his wife were mostly friends and relatives who had come all the way from Dzumeri, Giyani, to give him moral support.

"Imagine us in our suits and ties trapped in that damned lift for half an hour!

"There was not even any network reception for us to use our cellphones," said a member of the family, Robinson Khoza.

A court official later discovered the trapped victims and summoned help.

Khoza and former Mpumalanga director- general, Stanley Soko, have already pleaded not guilty to the fraud and corruption charges.

Soko is alleged to have irregularly approved a R3,6million payment to Rainbow Kwanda, despite Rainbow not having done any work for the province.

Khoza and about 40 family members and friends later dined at an up-market lodge in Nelspruit.