Law enforcement authorities led a manhunt, on Wednesday, which culminated in the arrest of 15 suspects linked to the infamous Durban Solid Waste tender that saw the dramatic ousting of Zandile Gumede as the city’s mayor.

As reported by Citizen, four of the 15 suspects that were slapped with fraud and corruption charges are active eThekwini councillors.

eThekwini Solid Waste tender: What we know

According to police spokesperson, Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi, the Hawks’ Clean Audit Task Team arrested:

  • four eThekwini councillors;
  • eight weighbridge officials. and
  • three company directors.

The matter, it is believed, is related to the R208-million tender scam ex-eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede was nabbed for, in October.

“The group was apprehended following a year-long investigation by the Hawks’ Clean Audit Task Team (CATT) for allegedly receiving gratifications, money laundering, contravention of the Municipal Finance Act and Municipal System Act,” Mulaudzi revealed.

Wednesday’s flurry of arrests takes the list of accused up to 22. Gumede, who has been touted as the mastermind behind the scandal, is currently out on R50 000 bail.

The Hawks believe that she and other suspects colluded with corporate entities and flouted procurement protocols in outsourcing a Solid Waste Management tender deal worth R208-million to cronies.

When is Zandile Gumede expected back in court?

After a dramatic October, where Gumede was arrested, released on bail and then raided by the Hawks and NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), the axed eThekwini mayor has remained in the shadows.

The flamboyant mayor was accused of failing to adhere to her bail conditions. However, the Durban Specialised Commercial Crimes Court ruled in her favour, claiming that she was not in violation of her bail conditions for not listing all of her home addresses.

She may have avoided spending time in jail until the commencement of the fraud case but time is against the former mayor. She is due back in court on 15 January 2020.

According to Mulaudzi, the latest string of arrests does not mean that there are no other suspects in their scope.

“[Wednesday’s] arrests bring to 22 the number of people implicated and arrested thus far. Investigations are still ongoing.” he said.

Mxolisi Kaunda, the new Mayor of eThekwini would not be drawn into revealing the identities of the councillors. Instead, he urged the media to allow the law to take its course.

“We must allow the law to take its course. So, all law enforcement agencies, they don’t have to come to us as the leadership of the municipality to ask for a permit to arrest or not to arrest. They are guided by the pieces of legislations of this country and our criminal law justice system is also there to serve our nation. So, we have got nothing to do with that but we will allow the law to take its course,” he said

Kaunda also indicated that the councillors would remain in their posts, despite the arrests.

“The law is very clear, if there are allegations against you, there are processes your organisation will have to follow. Those are processes that we will be leaving with the ANC to decide. They will be present. They are still councillors. They have not been suspended, they have not been fired, so they are still councillors,” he added.

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Presh JM Reporter

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