Amathole ANC councillor Nanziwe Rulashe has been acquitted on a criminal charge of failing to disclose that she had a previous conviction of theft and pending matter of identity fraud.
The state charged Rulashe with failing to disclose her criminal past when she first appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court last year to face charges of corruption and fraud amounting to R2.5-million.
She was granted R10000 bail after she told a magistrate she had no previous convictions or pending cases.
A warrant for her arrest was authorised in July last year after it emerged that Rulashe was convicted of theft in Cape Town in 2004 and that she was wanted by Gauteng police for a 2009 identity fraud offence.
The matter was argued this week before East London Regional Court magistrate Deon Rossouw.
The magistrate accepted Rulashe’s version that she did not know that the Criminal Procedure Act compelled her to disclose previous convictions.
Charges against her were withdrawn.
Speaking to the Dispatch yesterday, Rulashe said she was “relieved but not surprised” by her acquittal “on charges raised against me by law enforcement agents driving agendas to harm my efforts to work for the betterment of the people I had been elected to serve”.
Rulashe will, however, be back in court on November 23 in connection with R2.5-million Amathole District Municipality donated to her beauty pageant Miss Amathole Heritage in 2015.
She is facing the charges alongside her political ally and former ADM mayor Nomasikizi Konza, her younger sister Anita Rulashe and two other accused, Sigcinile Saba and Mawande Njeza.
It is the state’s case that some of the funds claimed from the financially struggling municipality to cover costs such as accommodation, a gala dinner, marketing, venue hire and other logistics ended up in the personal bank accounts of the accused.
At the time of the alleged fraud, Rulashe was the ANC ward councillor in the then-Nkonkobe municipality, and former chairwoman of the municipal public accounts committee at ADM.