Sihle Zikalala dismisses claims he knew of Gumede’s arrest

KZN ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala addressing the press conference at the party's offices in Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

KZN ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala addressing the press conference at the party's offices in Durban. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe

Zikalala says he has had no contact nor any discussion with any investigator involved in Gumede’s case.

The KZN ANC premier-elect – who is the MEC for economic development, tourism, and environmental affairs in the province – Sihle Zikalala, has rejected and dismissed attempts aimed at creating the impression that he knew about the arrest of the mayor of eThekwini Municipality Zandile Gumede.

Zikalala was reacting to an audio clip which is circulating widely on social media. In this recorded conversation of two males – one purportedly to be an investigator who is working with the Hawks – Zikalala’s name is mentioned. The purported investigator of a forensic company alleges to have telephoned Zikalala requesting a meeting with him.

Gumede appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on charges that include fraud, corruption, and racketeering on Tuesday.

The charges against Gumede relate to an alleged dodgy tender within the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) department.

Gumede stands accused of playing a “major role” in the defrauding of ratepayers to the tune of R208 million.

The two individuals discussing Gumede’s arrest in the clip speaking in IsiZulu, with one of them, believed to be the recipient of the call telling the caller: “you were right [about her arrest],” in loosely translated IsiZulu, while the caller responds by saying Gumede has been cornered.

The following is a loose translation of certain parts of the conversation:

“I am so thrilled because I have for some time been saying that this ‘magwinya mama’ should be arrested,” the call recipient says, with the respondent saying Gumede has run out of tricks and has run out of support.

“I did say that they must be waiting for elections and after the elections, she would be locked up,” the call recipient says.

“We knew about this a long time ago … we were waiting for the elections. She was supposed to be arrested last week but people were going to say this is all a political game, when we are not, so we decided to let her be,” the caller says

During the conversation, the caller mentions that one of the services providers, allegedly implicated alongside Gumede, fled to overseas and that at some stage councillors will also be implicated.

Later in the conversation, the caller, however, says the day before the call in question he was talking to Zikalala, whom he refers to as a friend, telling the ANC’s premier-elect that they should meet up and that he, the caller, is in Gauteng, Pretoria.

Questioned whether Zikalala and Gumede are not in the same faction of the ANC, the caller responds: “No, no, no, [Zikalala] left that group on Ramaphosa’s guidance …”

Listen to the recording below:

Zikalala said in a statement: “I take serious exception to anyone’s suggestion that I have had any prior knowledge of any arrest. It is very clear that some rogue elements are now involved in a campaign to distract me from carrying out my responsibilities. I wish to state that I have had no contact nor any discussion with any investigator involved in the case. I have instructed my office to hand over this audio-clip to law enforcement agencies and cyber experts for investigation. We need to establish the identity of the voices behind the conversation and reasons behind making such unfounded allegations.

“I want to assure the people of this province and the country as a whole that our main focus at the moment is on establishing the government of the people. On the 11th May, millions of people celebrated the opportunity to elect the party of their choice to lead a democratic government that represents their aspirations. We don’t want to betray the trust of those who voted as they are waiting for service delivery.”

ALSO READ: Gumede won’t step down as Durban mayor due to ‘mere allegations’

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