DURBAN, February 9 – A politically-connected Durban businessman is set to hand himself over to the provincial commercial crimes court on Friday for a bail application in the same graft case in which African National Congress (ANC) provincial heavyweight Mike Mabuyakhulu has been cited.
He is one of nine accused along with seven accused companies facing a raft of charges, including money laundering, corruption, theft and fraud for his alleged part in a plot to steal nearly R27-million from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
The department’s MEC at the time was Mabuyakhulu (accused no.16), while Desmond Golding (accused no.1) was the head of department. Both appeared in the same court on Wednesday and were released on R50 000 bail.
Spokesperson for the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal, Simphiwe Mhlongo, confirmed on Friday morning that the businessman was “expected to appear”.
He is accused number nine in the case, while his company, is accused number 10.
As per the indictment, the businessman is facing charges of corruption and money laundering for the part he allegedly played in fraudulent payments received and made for the North Sea Jazz festival.
The festival was to be held in Durban sometime between 2012 and 2013 as a joint venture between local company Soft Skills Communication 100 CC and MPM Productions and International Projects (Pty) Ltd. The department was set to fund it, but the event never took place.
MPM at the time held the hosting rights for the festival, which is owned by Netherlands-based Mojo Concert BV.
By October 2012, Mojo withdrew its hosting rights from MPM and neither Soft Skills nor the department signed a new agreement directly with Mojo.
On 30 November 2012, an amount of R26 886 900 was paid to Soft Skills by the department despite the initial deal stipulating it was to be R25-million paid over three years.
From Soft Skills, the money flowed to various entities, including the accused’s company.
The indictment alleges that on 30 November 2012, several of the co-accused paid an amount of R2,204,000 to the accused’s company “under the pretext of the North Sea Jazz Festival”.
The indictment further states that in the period between 11 to 28 February 2013, the accused’s company along with several other accused “made several payments totalling R1,000,000 to an attorney on behalf of [Golding]”.
Golding is facing a raft of charges. He is accused of ordering the multi-million rand payment to Soft Skills. He is also accused of insisting that Soft Skills be brought on board to facilitate the event.
The state alleges that the contracts created by the department to host the festival were deliberately completed in a manner to circumvent the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations, for fraudulent motives.
The state also alleges that Mabuyakhulu received a payment of R300,000 made into his personal bank account on 30 November 2012. “The money was paid under the reference ‘Ndiyema’, the clan name for Mabuyakhulu,” according to the indictment.
Mabuyakhulu was this year appointed as the convenor of the ANC’ interim leadership team in KwaZulu-Natal. He is tasked, along with other local ANC heavyweights, to prepare the party to hold a new provincial conference at which new leadership is to be elected.
This after the Pietermaritzburg High Court found last year that the party’s 2015 KZN conference was invalid and void. He also leads a faction in the province that successfully lobbied for SA deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to be the ruling party’s new president.
– African News Agency (ANA)