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The FW de Klerk Foundation welcomes media reports that eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede appeared in the Durban Specialised Commercial Crime Court today, relating to charges of fraud and corruption concerning eThekwini Municipality. Ms Gumede apparently handed herself over to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), to avoid arrest and appeared in Court to face the charges. 

This signals one of the first dominoes to fall in answering for the alleged looting of State funds, and all eyes will be on the court case.

According to a statement by the Hawks of 13 May 2019, Mayor Gumede is part of a larger group who were arrested following an investigation by the Hawks’ National Clean Audit Task Team (NCATT) into eThekwini Municipality. The investigation centred around allegations of fraud and corruption relating to a R208 million Durban Solid Waste tender. 

The charging of these officials on counts of corruption and fraud is a major step in bringing to book those who have allegedly looted State funds for their own personal gain. One of the main priorities of the newly-elected government should be not only to fight corruption but more importantly, to ensure those who have abused their positions are held accountable. 

For this to happen, South Africa needs strong institutions and strong institutional capacity, as well as the cooperation of the Hawks, other investigative bodies and the National Prosecution Authority (NPA). The Hawks in specific need to be meticulous in the way in which they conduct their investigation and gather evidence, in order to guarantee the best chance of conviction if the accused are found guilty. This is essential for restoring the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system. In a broader context, this can be seen as a positive development in President Ramaphosa’s quest to deal decisively with the double scourge of State capture and corruption. This is particularly significant in that it is happening in the capital of the province where former president Zuma still has some influence. 

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation
14 May 2019

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