KwaZulu-Natal's preferred premier candidate, Sihle Zikalala, has disputed claims that he knew about the arrest of eThekwini mayor, Zandile Gumede, before it was carried out.
Gumede and councillor Mondli Mthembu appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court this week in connection with charges related to a multimillion-rand waste removal tender, News24 earlier reported. Mthembu is the chairperson of the human settlements and infrastructure committee.
The allegations about the Zikalala's knowledge of the arrest emerged after an audio clip was widely circulated on social media. In it, Zikalala's name is mentioned in a conversation between two men - one supposedly a Hawks investigator.
It is alleged that the supposed investigator of a forensic company telephoned Zikalala and requested a meeting with him.
But Zikalala, the province's MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs, rubbished the claims.
He said he took serious exception to any suggestion that he had any prior knowledge of any arrest.
"I wish to state that I have had no contact nor any discussion with any investigator involved in the case," Zikalala said in a statement.
He has instructed his office to hand the 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," Zikalala said.
Gumede and Mthembu were released on R50 000 bail and are expected to appear again in court on August 8.