Zandile Gumede off the hook despite breaching bail conditions
Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede strutted out of the Durban magistrate's court on Friday despite having been found guilty of violating her bail conditions.
The gallery was packed when Gumede appeared in the special commercial crimes court based at the magistrate's court for breaching her bail conditions, after it was revealed that she was no longer living at the address listed in her bail application.
On Thursday members of the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority's asset forfeiture unit (AFU) swooped on Gumede's Somerset home in Umhlanga only to find that the former mayor, who is known as the "Iron Lady of Inanda", had been renting that property and had moved back into her Amaoti home some two months prior.
This, according to senior state advocate Ashika Lucken, was in direct violation of Gumede's bail conditions as she was "not to change her address without prior notice to Col Mphaki".
Lt-Col Ngoako Mphaki of the Hawks, and the investigating officer in the case against Gumede and her 15 co-accused charged with corruption, fraud and being in violation of the Municipal Finance Management Act related to a R208m Durban Solid Waste contract, deposed an affidavit stating that he had only been made aware that Gumede was no longer living in her Somerset home on Thursday.
Lucken emphasised that Gumede had listed her property in Amaoti, Inanda, as an immovable asset in her bail application and not as an alternative address to the Somerset property.
Gumede's advocate Jay Naidoo told magistrate Dawn Somaroo that she had informed her instructing attorney, Bulelani Mazomba, a week after she had moved out of her Somerset property and back to Inanda.
Naidoo said Mphaki had contacted Mazomba on Thursday after the AFU found out she no longer resided in Somerset.
"The instructing attorney only realised yesterday that he had neglected to inform Mphaki of my client's change in address. She (Gumede) assumed he would have done this."
Naidoo said the application for Gumede's appearance on Friday was for her to explain why she had not complied with her bail conditions, emphasising that the state had not made any application to have her bail revoked.
He said "what is done is done, what has happened has happened. It was not done with any mal-intent".
He said Gumede had travelled extensively throughout the country since being granted bail and had on at least five occasions informed Mazomba, who in turn had informed Mphaki, of her travels.
In response, Somaroo said this explanation had "removed her (Gumede) from the equation, placing the onus on the instructing attorney (Mazomba)".
Gumede in the meantime took to Twitter, tweeting a picture of presumably her church and with a 1987 quote by Winnie Mandela.
Following a short conference, Naidoo read the affidavits of Gumede and Mazomba into the record - confirming their story.
"There is clearly no fault that can be attributed to the accused and there should be no amendments made to her bail conditions," said Naidoo.
In closing, Somaroo - who earlier stated she had opted against the state's urgent application for a warrant of arrest to be issued for Gumede on Thursday - conceded that given the fact that the state had no intention of applying to have Gumede's bail revoked, she was left with no option but to take it as a case of Mazomba being at fault.
"He has taken it upon himself that he was at fault and I have to accept this as he has stated this under oath in an affidavit," she said.
The matter against Gumede and her co-accused is postponed to January 15 for the state to complete its investigations.
On Thursday, Gumede told SowetanLIVE's sister publication Times Select that she never owned the Somerset property, but rented it for convenience and had listed all three of her homes in her bail application.
“Somerset I was renting because I was trying to be safe to ensure [sic] that I’m near to work. I was renting there, that’s why I wrote Somerset, Inanda and Phoenix,” she said.