ANC supporters, some from as far as the Free State, gathered outside the Durban magistrate’s court on Tuesday, singing songs of support for leaders including former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and former president Jacob Zuma.

Gumede and her 20 co-accused are facing charges relating to a R430m Durban Solid Waste tender, issued in 2017 while she was still in office. There are 2,786 charges against them.

A large marquee and a stage was set up outside the courthouse, where Gumede was expected to address her supporters after her appearance. However, after a few pictures and greeting some supporters, Gumede left the gathering without addressing the crowd.

ANC Youth League chairperson for the eThekwini region, Thembo Ntuli, told the 500-strong crowd that he believes in her innocence.

“We know that in SA, a black leader has to be arrested in order for the ANC to lose its power. First it was comrade Zuma, then it was comrade Ace and now Mama Zandile. All these leaders are being targeted for their influence to bring down the ANC. Our message is simple as the youth: let us all unite to face our common enemy,” he said.

Almost two years after she was arrested, the indictment finally spells out the 2,786 charges Gumede and her co-accused face, and the matter has been set down for a pretrial conference in the Durban high court in June.

Ntando Khuzwayo, the acting spokesperson of ANC eThekwini branches supporting Gumede, said they were happy with the outcome.

“Obviously, the representative teams of Mama Gumede and the other co-accused will have to look at these documents carefully. But we are happy to have the matter move forward. This is something that has been hanging over their heads for some time now.

“We are also very happy with the turnout and the support. We had supporters coming from Gauteng, Eastern Cape and even the Free State,” said Khuzwayo.

Thabang Kgope, who spoke on behalf of the Free State branch, said they stand fully behind Gumede, Magashule and Zuma. Kgope said the ANC will be like “waters running through the valleys” in SA.

“What we have seen is that our leaders who are pro the RET [radical economic transformation] regulations set in Nasrec are the ones being targeted. That is why we are here today. Our current leaders are destroying the ANC. They are sleeping with the enemy. We are going to multiply and we will win this war.”

Kgope spoke of the hundreds of supporters who had gathered outside the court in support of Gumede and her co-accused.

“What you see now is nothing. More people should be here but we had to keep in mind the regulations of Covid. There are thousands of us, especially here in eThekwini. Everyone who came here came at their own expense, to show support to our mother Zandile, because we want to see what will happen to her.”