eThekwini city manager barred from returning to work
eThekwini city manager Sipho Nzuza, who is one of the accused in the R320m Durban Solid Waste corruption and fraud matter, has been barred from going back to work.
Durban regional court magistrate Garth Davis dismissed his application on Tuesday for a relaxation of bail condition, and imposed even harsher conditions in a lengthy ruling in which he detailed why he did not believe Nzuza should be allowed to sit in the city’s accounting officer chair until after the criminal trial is over.
Nzuza and his co-accused, including former mayor Zandile Gumede, have been served with indictments to appear in the Durban high court and a date for the trial is expected to be set later this year.
Nzuza was arrested in March last year, apparently after he reneged on a deal with the state that he would become a section 2014 witness.
Davis said the evidence during the hearing showed Nzuza had protected other accused in the matter and had not instituted disciplinary hearings against them.
In respect of two of the other accused, he had not stopped the award of a city tender to a company related to them, even though they had already been arrested at that time.
While Nzuza painted a picture that he had assisted with the investigation and had blown the whistle, he had in fact admitted to contravening supply chain management processes but claimed to have done so under duress from Gumede and another councillor, executive committee (exco) member Mlondli Mthembu.
Davis said Nzuza and others chose to ignore their legal obligations to provide meaningful oversight over the fiscus of the municipality.
“At the outset, the investigation revealed massive fraud and illegal peddling of influence involving the mayor and councillors, and that the city manager had admitted to being influenced to be part of what was known months before his arrest. Having full knowledge of this, council and exco did nothing,” Davis said.
“In light of the seniority of the city manager, his powerful position and his ability to negatively impact on those employed has clearly led to witnesses being intimidated and being reluctant to testify.
“It is clear that by virtue of his position, he is able to greatly influence tender processes.”