Africa-Press – South-Africa. Court proceedings came to a standstill when the prosecutor in the fraud and corruption case against the Nelson Mandela Bay city manager was berated at length by the defence for not having her ducks in a row.
The second day of the trial against Noxolo Nqwazi and 11 others started in the Gqeberha Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday.
While proceedings were supposed to start at 09:00, adjournments causing a delay of more than two hours followed because some members of the defence had not received all the documents from the State needed for the trial.
After learning that he was one of the few who did not receive cellphone records on time to prepare for Tuesday’s trial, Nqwazi’s lawyer, Alwyn Griebenow, spent several minutes scolding advocate Leigh-Anne Pillay-Selahle.
Griebenow said the testimony of a key witness from the National Treasury would have a direct impact on his client’s case and he could have altered the way he prepared if he had all the necessary documents beforehand.
Nqwazi and her co-accused face several charges, including fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
Her 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 Nonpumezo Ngotsha, director of HT Pelatona Projects 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 contract of more than R24 million that was allegedly fraudulently awarded by the municipality two years ago. The tender was intended for the construction of toilets in an informal settlement but instead some of it was allegedly used to bribe the three former councillors to turn against their party, leading to the ousting of former mayor Athol Trollip.
Griebenow said it was unreasonable that important documents were still on their way to Gqeberha from East London.
Pillay-Selahle told the court that once she was made aware that not everyone had received the documents, she spent her weekend working and sending the defence the paperwork they needed.
“I did that on a Saturday afternoon to show there was no malicious attempt by the State,” she told the court.
She added that none of the members of the defence mentioned lacking documents during the pre-trial conference.
Griebenow wanted to know how he could know documents were outstanding if he had no idea which documents were needed for the trial in the first place.
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He said he trusted the State unconditionally to provide him with all the documents and added it was unacceptable that he only learnt of outstanding documents the night before the second day of the trial.
“The State brought the accused on trial so they must be ready,” he said.
Magistrate Vusiwe Mnyani said it appeared that the pre-trial conference was not fruitful since there was still an issue of outstanding documents.
“The case should not have been set down for trial if it was not ready,” Mnyani said.
She ruled that evidence continues to be led in court as long as it did not touch on matters contained in the outstanding documents until the matter has been resolved.
The trial continues on Wednesday.