Ntutu’s bid to scrap trial fails

ANC of­fi­cial’s fraud case now set for Novem­ber

Daily Dispatch - - Front Page - By ZWANGA MUKHUTHU

AN AP­PLI­CA­TION by the de­fence to have ANC Amath­ole re­gional sec­re­tary Teris Ntutu’s fraud and cor­rup­tion case struck off the roll was dis­missed in the Butterworth Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day.

Ntutu, KwaZulu-Natal busi­ness­man Regis Masuku and Mn­quma mu­nic­i­pal­ity as­set man­ager Zanele Mbewu were in court yes­ter­day in con­nec­tion with an al­leged R10-mil­lion black refuse bag ten­der the Butterworth-based mu­nic­i­pal­ity had awarded to busi­ness­man Sive Nombe­mbe last year.

Nombe­mbe was ac­cused num­ber two, but died in a car crash last month.

Ac­cused num­ber one, Sindile Tantsi, who was the mu­nic­i­pal man­ager when the ten­der was awarded, also died in a car smash ear­lier this year.

Lawyers for the ac­cused brought for­ward the ap­pli­ca­tion for the case to be struck off the roll after the state re­quested an­other post­pone­ment for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The last time the mat­ter was in court was in July, when the state also in­di­cated it wanted a fur­ther post­pone­ment in or­der for it to draft an in­dict­ment and present it to the de­fence so they could pre­pare for the trial in the Mthatha High Court.

Se­nior state pros­e­cu­tor ad­vo­cate Din­iso Ke­tani yes­ter­day told mag­is­trate Lundi Qan­gule he was pre­par­ing the in­dict­ment when Nombe­mbe died.

“So has the in­dict­ment been pre­pared,” Qan­gule asked. Ke­tani re­sponded: “We were busy with it when Nombe­mbe died. We were all shat­tered be­cause first it was Tantsi, who was vi­tal to the case, and now Nombe­mbe is gone as well. The in­dict­ment is there but is not fi­nalised as a re­sult of Mr Nombe­mbe’s death.”

Ke­tani said the state was re­quest­ing a fur­ther post­pone­ment so that more in­ves­ti­ga­tions could be done.

Ntutu’s lawyer, Henry van Breda, said the state had am­ple time to pre­pare for the in­dict­ment.

“The death of Mr Nombe­mbe has noth­ing to do with the state un­der­tak­ing its du­ties.

“If the state has enough ev­i­dence against the ac­cused they should ar­range a trial date for the high court,” Van Breda said.

“The fact that the two ac­cused have passed away has not im­pacted on the case be­cause the state can’t build its case around ac­cused per­sons.

“It [must build its case around its own] wit­nesses.”

He said the post­pone­ment should be turned down be­cause there was noth­ing pre­vent­ing the state from con­duct­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tions while the case was struck off the roll.

Masuku’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Jerome Brains SC, said the state had in­di­cated in July that it had com­pleted its in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“There was a le­git­i­mate ex­pec­ta­tion as of July that the ac­cused would be served with an in­dict­ment to go to the high court.

“The death of Nombe­mbe can’t be the rea­son why the state can­not com­pile an in­dict­ment and serve it on the ac­cused,” he said.

In hand­ing down judg­ment, Qan­gule said: “The state can­not base its case on the in­for­ma­tion of the per­son they are ac­cus­ing.

“It is the ev­i­dence of the wit­nesses which is ex­pected from the state, not the ac­cused.

“How­ever, the court is of the view that a post­pone­ment should be granted to look at the charges pre­ferred on the ac­cused.

“One can say with­out hes­i­ta­tion that in this coun­try there is too much cor­rup­tion and the court has to take a stance,” Qan­gule said, and post­poned the case to Novem­ber 21 for copies of the in­dict­ment to be given to the de­fence.

● Ntutu yes­ter­day moved to block the As­set For­fei­ture Unit (AFU) from at­tach­ing his prop­er­tieswhen he paid them R313 000 soon after his court ap­pear­ance.

The AFU won an or­der from the Gra­ham­stown High Court last week to re­coup the R250 000 plus in­ter­est that Nombe­mbe had paid to Ntutu from the ten­der award.

Ntutu said yes­ter­day al­though he had re­turned the money, he was go­ing to fight the or­der in court. —

TERIS NTUTU

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