The state wants to separate an East London trial involving several politicians and powerful business people implicated in the Nelson Mandela funeral fraud scandal, it announced yesterday.
Proceedings began shortly after 11am as dozens of ANC supporters sang pro-Pumlani Mkolo songs and danced outside the East London Magistrate’s Court.
Senior state prosecuting advocate Diniso Ketani told East London regional magistrate Sadia Jacobs of his plans to try suspended ANC Dr WB Rubusana regional secretary Mkolo, former Buffalo City Metro (BCM) mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, her former deputy Temba Tinta, former council speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele, councillor Sindiswa Gomba, senior BCM official Ondela Mahlangu, Viwe Vazi, Dean Fanoe, Zintle Nkuhlu and Nosiphiwo Mati separately.
He told the court he would launch the application for the separation of the cases on November 22.
Separation of trials occur mainly where the accused do not all face the same charges but where the state alleges there is a common purpose to defraud. There exists a great deal of overlap which must be decided on a consideration of the different degrees of alleged criminality.
The accused face charges relating to misuse of millions of rands earmarked for the late statesman’s memorial services and funeral in December 2013.
Ketani informed the court that he had, as promised during the last court appearance in August, provided further particulars to the accused’s lawyers in respect of the state’s claim that the accused had all acted with common purpose.
He said only the lawyers representing Mkolo, Nkuhlu and Mati were not satisfied.
“I am going to suggest we roll this matter over to tomorrow so we can find each other, failure of which the court will intervene,” Ketani said.
Jacobs granted the postponement for today and warned Mkolo, Mati and Nkuhlu’s lawyers to appear.
The rest of the accused were excused and warned to appear again in court on November 22 for the trial separation application.