Fraud trial of Nelson Mandela Bay city manager on hold amid bid for magistrate’s recusal | News24

Fraud trial of Nelson Mandela Bay city manager on hold amid bid for magistrate's recusal | News24

Nelson Mandela Bay city manager Noxolo Nqwazi.

Nelson Mandela Bay city manager Noxolo Nqwazi.

Lulama Zenzile

  • The fraud and corruption trial of the Nelson Mandela Bay city manager and others has been put on hold.
  • This is to give the magistrate an opportunity to consider a defence application for her recusal.
  • The matter will resume in October.

The magistrate presiding over the fraud and corruption case of Nelson Mandela Bay city manager Noxolo Nqwazi and others has put the matter on hold to consider the defence’s application for her recusal.

The recusal application was brought on Thursday afternoon on the grounds that Magistrate Vusiwe Mnyani was allegedly biased towards the defence and lenient towards the State.

Nqwazi and 11 others are on trial in the Gqeberha Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on charges of fraud, money laundering, corruption and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act. It is alleged that they bypassed certain processes to award a R24.6 million tender.

The defence criticised Mnyani’s handling of the trial, claiming she allowed the State to continuously ask for adjournments due to outstanding documents that still have not been furnished to the defence.

Although a court order was issued earlier this week for the State to have all documents ready so that the trial could continue, the State was still allowed an extension with more adjournments. 

In response to the application, State advocate Leigh-Anne Pillay-Selahle said the defence did not have enough evidence on which to base the application and asked the court to dismiss it.

She said her integrity came under attack from the defence even though she had no control over the fact that outstanding documents were taking a long period of time to arrive from East London.

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Anneline Roestorf, who represents six of the 12 accused, said she was perplexed by the arguments raised by the State.

Roestorf said Pillay-Selahle failed to address any of the defence’s grounds for bringing the application.

“It’s almost as if the State believes the application is against her as a person because she is addressing the outstanding documents when that is not what the application is about.”

Roestorf added that the court was not considering what the defence was saying at all.

During his argument on Friday morning, Nqwazi’s lawyer, Alwyn Griebenow, said it was a serious matter that the State is making a mockery of.

“It has been more than eight months since we received the indictment and even as we stand here now, we still don’t have full disclosure to the cellphone records,” he said.

When Pillay-Selahle interjected, Griebenow told the court it was a perfect example of what the defence is referring to.

He said:

What just happened is a further apprehension of bias. I am arguing, the State jumps up and interrupts me but the court does not tell her to sit down. I rest my case.

 

Mnyani postponed the matter to 5 October for judgment on the recusal application.

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, director of HT Pelatona Projects MornĂ© 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.

READ | R24m toilet tender: Pressure piles on Nelson Mandela Bay to act against corruption accused city manager

The charges stem from their alleged involvement in a toilet tender contract worth 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.


Source: https://www.news24.com/news24/southafrica/news/fraud-trial-of-nelson-mandela-bay-city-manager-on-hold-amid-bid-for-magistrates-recusal-20230922

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