Defence accuses prosecutor of ‘making excuses’ as NMB City manager’s fraud trial delayed again

Defence accuses prosecutor of 'making excuses' as NMB City manager's fraud trial delayed again
Defence accuses prosecutor of 'making excuses' as NMB City manager's fraud trial delayed again

Africa-Press – South-Africa. The fraud and corruption trial of the City manager of Nelson Mandela Bay hit another snag when the defence ripped into the prosecutor on Thursday.

According to the defence, the State prosecutor, advocate Leigh-Anne Pillay-Selahle, was “making excuses” and “not taking responsibility for her actions”.

This was due to the State’s failure to provide the defence with all the necessary documents before the trial commenced on Monday.

After making a request earlier this week for documents, which were still on its way to Gqeberha from East London, to be available in court on Thursday, it was not done.

City manager Noxolo Nqwazi and 11 others are on trial in the Gqeberha Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, facing charges of fraud, money laundering, corruption and contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act.

It is alleged they bypassed certain processes to award a R24.6 million tender.

Anneline Roestorf, who represents six of the 12 accused, said Pillay-Selahle committed to the court that all documents would be ready because it was in the interest of justice.

Roestorf wanted to know why the interest of justice, in terms of the accused, was not being taken into account.

“The State has had ample opportunity and more than enough time to provide us with all the documents. She [Pillay-Selahle] should take responsibility for her mistakes and not try to justify them afterwards,” she said.

“The interest of justice is long gone. I want to know what the State is hiding.”

Pillay-Selahle said:

She added that, although she understood the defence had to go through all of the records to properly consult with their clients and prepare their defence, the state also had channels and procedures to follow.

“I have no control or authority over certain processes of the police. The court is well aware that the State is dependent on others to get information distributed. It is not an excuse, but actual reasons why we could not provide them with the copies of the cellphone records sooner.”

Pillay-Selahle said the defence’s claims had a direct bearing on her integrity as a person and an officer of the court.

Roestorf said she did not believe Pillay-Selahle was lying about not having the documents.

She added:

Nqwazi’s co-accused are three former DA councillors – Trevor Louw, Victor Manyathi and Neville Higgins – as well as businessman Xolani Masela and his wife, Nwabisa Masela, her mother, Nompumezo Ngotsha, HT Pelatona Projects director Morné van der Linde, former ANC regional secretary in the metro, Luyolo Nqakula, and former acting executive director of human settlements, Mvuleni Mapu.

Ngotsha and Van der Linde also face charges on behalf of their companies, Thuthiko Logistics and HT Pelatona Projects.

The charges stem from their alleged involvement in a toilet tender of more than R24 million, which was allegedly fraudulently awarded by the municipality a few years ago.

The tender was intended for the construction of toilets in an informal settlement, but instead some of the money was allegedly used to bribe the three former councillors to turn against their party, leading to the ousting of former mayor Athol Trollip.

The trial continues on Friday.

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