Ntutu’s bid to scrap trial fails
ANC official’s fraud case now set for November
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. —