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Court rejects bid by eThekwini municipality corruption accused to release R1m for legal fees

The Jaguar F-Pace SUV three Durban businessmen are accused of purchasing for senior eThekwini official Sandile Ngcobo and his wife. The vehicle was seized by members of the Hawks and assets forfeiture unit in Durban in October last year.
The Jaguar F-Pace SUV three Durban businessmen are accused of purchasing for senior eThekwini official Sandile Ngcobo and his wife. The vehicle was seized by members of the Hawks and assets forfeiture unit in Durban in October last year.
Image: Orrin Singh

eThekwini municipality deputy supply chain manager Sandile Ngcobo, one of 20 accused in a R320m corruption and fraud case relating to a waste collection contract, has failed to have R1m released from his restrained assets, which he claimed he needed to pay legal fees.

Ngcobo is due to stand trial in the Durban high court in July next year along with former mayor Zandile Gumede, former municipal manager Sipho Nzuza, senior employee Robert Abbu and others.

After their arrests in October 2019, the National Director of Public Prosecutions was granted a provisional order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca) in which assets to the value of more than R230m belonging to the accused and others were restrained.

The finalisation of this order is being opposed and has been set down for argument in February next year.

However, Ngcobo launched an “interlocutory” application, seeking assets valued at R1m to be released immediately so he could pay his legal fees which, he said, were R500,000 and counting.

He also wanted an order for the return of a Jaguar XF, Porsche Cayenne, his wife Vuyiswa Ngcobo’s salary, R41,500 in cash and the unfreezing of an Absa bank account.

Durban high court acting judge Sharon Marks has turned him down.

In her judgment this week, she said following the granting of the October 2019 order, a meeting had been held between Ngcobo’s legal representative Jimmy Howse and the curator bonis.

The curator had requested Ngcobo to provide her with a list of income and expenditure and his interest in properties under restraint “under oath”. However, to date he had not complied and there had been no “full and frank” disclosure as required by Poca, Marks said.

“The purpose of a restraint order is to preserve the assets pending the ultimate determination of a confiscation order which may or may not be granted,” she said.

She said the Constitutional Court, when dealing with a similar matter, had made it clear that while Poca made allowance for reasonable living and legal expenses on limited terms, this was conditional on a full financial disclosure by the applicant.

The NDPP had stated that Ngcobo had, to date, failed to provide the curator with a schedule of income and expenses under oath as requested, and he had admitted as such.

“According to the interim report, the curator said Ngcobo had not been forthcoming with information relating to his assets and all bank accounts held at Absa. It was only after investigations that other accounts containing cash of R6m were uncovered.”

She said contrary to the restraint order and the Poca, Ngcobo had opened another bank account into which his salary was being paid.

Further, Marks said, the assets belonging to his wife and the Jaguar had already been returned.

The Porsche was destroyed in the July 2021 unrest and could not restored or released. His salary was never restrained.

Marks described his affidavit as “verbose” and a “lecture in law” which failed to disclose any facts or make out a case.

“It is no surprise the curator has not acceded to his requests,” she said, dismissing the application with costs.

TimesLIVE


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