Mandela funeral fraud and corruption trial hit by delays

More delays are expected in the Nelson Mandela funeral fraud trial that involves former Buffalo City municipal officials, administration staff, ANC Dr WB Rubusana regional leader, business people and their entities.

Since the resumption of the trial last week, several accused have lodged applications and counter-applications that required presiding judge Igna Stretch to halt proceedings and consider those applications.

For the third time yesterday, the trial was once again delayed by the power outages in the Bhisho area.

When it finally got under way, defence counsel Lusindiso Matoti for accused number one Phumlani Mkolo lodged an application for Stretch to recuse herself for the allegations of being biased and that she had pre-judged proposals for application as a delaying tactic before the actual application was presented before court.

In court papers seen by Sunday World for the recusal application, which is set to be argued on Friday, Mkolo’s attorney Nyameko Diniso argued that Stretch uttered words that make her appear to have taken a view after informing Matoti in judge’s chambers that she would not entertain any delaying tactics on the matter.

“In no uncertain terms, her ladyship informed the defence counsel that she was not going to entertain any applications for postponement today [Thursday] at all.

“She further uttered that the trial was to proceed today without delaying tactics or excuses. What is rather baffling with this response is that her ladyship already formed a perceived judgment not to hear any applications for postponement without ventilating what the applications entailed,” said Diniso in court papers.

He said Stretch seemed to have formed an opinion prior to actual knowledge that the process application was merely dilatory delaying tactics to stall the trial from proceedings.

This is the second application for postponement by the former ANC chairman of Dr WB Rubusana region Mkolo since the resumption of the trial last week.

Through his previous counsel Richard Quinn, Mkolo applied for a postponement, arguing that he had made representations to the Eastern Cape director of public prosecutions Barry Madolo and therefore it would be in the interest of justice for the matter to be postponed until Madolo makes a ruling on those representations.

Other accused, former Buffalo City mayor Zukiswa Ncita and former Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba have also informed judge Stretch that they have made representations and are seeking for postponement until their representations are heard and responded to.

Both Ncita and Gomba are arguing that they cannot afford lawyers and do not qualify for the Legal Aid because they are earning an income as an MP and MPL, respectively, which is above what is required for the Legal Aid.

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