In the past years, the names of many South African political office holders have been linked to corruption. One of such is the former mayor of eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality and member of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature, Zandile Gumede. Her case got very dramatic in 2019 when her home was raided by the Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Asset Forfeiture Unit alongside those of her other associates. In the process, many of her assets were seized.
Videos of the raid went viral and more than a year later, many had executed that at least, the corruption charges would lead somewhere in the country’s fight against corruption. However, in December 2020, she got the clearance by the ANC to get back to party activities, and even get a seat in the legislative house, leaving many to wonder what actually happened with the corruption charges against her.
Raid on Zandile Gumede’s House Happened in 2019
In October 2019, the news broke that the home of Gumede was raided by the Hawks as a result of the corruption cases that her name was drawn into. At the time of the house raid, she was on bail for which application she stated her residential address as Ilchester Avenue home in Durban North. However, on the date of the surprise raid, members of the Hawks team went there only to be met by her absence.
They realized that she was only renting the property and had already moved out, violating one of the terms of her bail. According to her spokesperson, she only rented the property when she was a Mayor, and so since she was axed from the position due to the scandal, it was only normal for her to move out. The Hawks and the NPA proceeded to her home in Inanda, where she was served papers on the raid before proceeding with the action.
Some of the charges that led to her arrest and subsequent raid include the following:
- Fraud and also fraud by omission
- Contravention of sections and penalty clause of the municipal finance management act
- Contravention of sections 3 and 21 of the prevention and combating of corrupt activities act
- Contraventions of the prevention of organized crime act
- Contravention of the local government municipal act
- Contravention of the righteous assembly act
Events Leading To The Raid
Before the home of the former mayor was raided in October 2019, her name has been enmeshed in various cases of money laundering, corruption, and racketeering dating back to 2016 when she was first arrested alongside other officials of her municipality. The charges against them were in connection to a waste management tender of over R430 million.
Although she was later released, investigation on her involvement in the alleged fraudulent deal continued. In 2018, it was reported that the Hawks had already finished investigating the matter, and it was already set to arrest her and all others that were also involved in the deal.
By May 2019, she was dragged before the Special Commercial Crimes court in Durban, where she had questions to answer on the aforementioned allegations, among others that included a fake employment creation. Zandile was later released on R50,000 bail.
In August 2019, just a few hours after she was due to appear in court, the lead investigator in the case was ambushed in what was believed to be an assassination attempt, but he was lucky to escape with only some injuries following a gun battle. The attack happened around his home in Germiston, east of Johannesburg. No name was released in connection to the attempted assassination.
It was not too long after this that her home was raided. It started in the early hours of the day and continued to others who were also involved in the charge.
The Allegations Against Zandile Gumede
The investigations against Zandile were first launched by the Hawks before another was started by Integrity Forensic Solutions, which was appointed by the city’s integrity and investigations unit to look into the award of a contract to hire and clean chemical toilets.
Following the investigations, it was realized that there was a fraud orchestrated by some officials, including Gumede, which saw the municipality part ways with R25 million in the name of hiring a cleaning chemical toilets in six months. The same contract was awarded three years before then for R3 million. Another scam uncovered was about a contract of R36 million for the building of over 2,000 toilets, which were never built.
Another case brought up was about irregularities with a tender for the supply of recycling waste refuse bags for eThekwini, which was worth R90 million. More so, she was implicated in another investigation into the aforementioned waste removal and dumping tender.
A Lot of Properties Were Seized During The Raid on Zandile Gumede’s House
#BREAKING: We’re now at the Asset Forfeiture Unit storage facility. This Porsche and Lamborghini are among the luxury vehicles seized from #ZandileGumede’s co-accused during today’s raids. @etvNewsSA pic.twitter.com/uSDCyIMm20
— Nabeelah Shaikh (@Nabeelah_Shaikh) October 10, 2019
Although she only made R1.35 million each year from her work as a mayor at the time, the assets seized were put at over R50m. What remains unclear is if the entire assets valued at over R50 million were hers or combined with that of others that were also raided in the same operation.
In total, the individuals raided were 16 in number, including the former mayor. Apart from cars and cash, homes, and 26 companies, two trusts which have not been quantified were also seized. While a white Lamborghini Huracan Spider was seized from Sinthamone Ponnan, Hlenga Sibisi lost a silver Mercedes V8 Biturbo AMG GT, among others.
The individual values of the properties that were seized from Zandile Gumede have not been revealed, but they have been rumored to include the following, even though some sources claim the list might also include some items seized from others raided:
- Ford Ranger Wildtrak
- An Isuzu double cab
- A Toyota Land Cruiser car
- Two Porsches
- Two Jaguars
- An unregistered black Audi RS3
- Two homes
- 33.3 percent of her ownership of MMZ Media Distributors and Supplies
She Was Not The Only One Whose House Was Raided
Although it is Zandile Gumede who is at the center of the corruption charges, it is her name that is most pronounced since she was the Mayor at the time of the alleged crime. Nonetheless, during the raid, she was not the only one that was affected. Others who were also fingered in the alleged crime include Ethekwini Municipality Deputy Head of Strategy and New Development Robert Abbu, Supply Chain Manager Sandile Ngcobo, Hlenga Sibisi, Mzwandile Dludla, Sinthamone Ponnan, Sithulele Mkhize, Bongani Dlomo, and Prabagaram Pariah.
In all, she was accused alongside 21 others who are said to have had a hand in the alleged crime. The bulk of the assets seized during the raid belonged to the former Mayor, but the homes of others who were also involved in the said crime, including former councilor Mondli Mthembu were also raided. Others such as the homes of Sandile Ngcobo, as well as businessman Robert Aboo, were also raided. Information about the assets seized from the other co-accusers remains unknown.
The former mayor, however, continued to maintain that she was a target of investigation and raid simply because she was a woman and not because of any crime she committed. She also claimed that it was only a vendetta against her.
Where is Zandile Gumede Since The Raid on Her House?
Since the Raid on her home, Zandile has been suspended from the ANC and other activities while her trail continued in the alleged corruption case. However, towards the end of 2020, she was cleared to return to the ANC, and on 19 August 2020, following the passing of Ricardo Mthembu who lost his life to COVID-19, she was sworn in to take his place as a Member of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature.
Her return to the office and party activities were met with so much criticism because of her pending court case in respect to the fraud she was allegedly involved in. However, even before she was reinstated, others who were also involved in the case, including Sandile Ngcobo and Robert Abbu have also returned to work.
Their return was said to be in line since they were only given a one-year suspension. While some of those accused were suspended for a year, others got only three months and with negotiated payments. Zandile Gumede and others named in the alleged crime are still standing trial for the aforementioned crimes.