‘I have respect for comrade Mbalula’

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Former NYDA head Andile Lungisa, second from right, and his three co-accused, his wife, Ursula Sali, second from left, Xolisile Guqaza, left, and Thabo Shogole, right. File photo: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Johannesburg - Former NYDA boss Andile Lungisa, accused of defrauding the arts and culture department, said on Wednesday he respected Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula.

“I don't have any ill-feelings against him or anyone,” said Lungisa.

“I have respect for comrade Mbalula.”

Lungisa was speaking outside the Johannesburg Special Commercialised Crimes Court after he and three co-accused - his wife Ursula Sali, Thabo Shogolo, and Xolisile Guquza - appeared for fraud and money-laundering.

They allegedly accepted and shared among themselves the R2.5 million paid by the arts and culture department for US singer R Kelly to perform at the Nelson Mandela Sports Day concert in August.

Kelly, however, did not perform and his management claimed to be unaware of the gig.

At the time, Mbalula said this act was committed by people who wanted to get rich “in a split of a second” by lying to the department.

Earlier this month, Lungisa's lawyer Thabo Kwinana told reporters there had been political interference in the case.

“All that I'm saying is that pressure has been put to bear on the police and [the National Prosecuting Authority] to act against the accused in a civil matter and which has been turned to become a criminal matter,” he said.

He claimed a government minister had sent reporters text messages informing them to be in court for the hearing.

“One national minister has tipped off the media to come to the hearing and the people who have been tipped off know who that minister is,” he said.

At the time, Lungisa named the politician as Mbalula and accused him of instructing the prosecution to oppose bail.

He claimed Mbalula was waging an old vendetta against him arising from his opposition to Mbalula's nomination as ANC secretary general at the party's elective conference in Mangaung last year.

Mbalula has denied the allegations.

“I am shocked and dismayed at Andile Lungisa's unprovoked attack and diatribe against me,” Mbalula said in a statement at the time.

Lungisa has since requested that he be relieved of his political duties as an ANC Eastern Cape executive committee member while he deals with the charges against him.

On Wednesday, he said he wanted the political work to continue without him.

He said he had faith in the country's courts and that the matter would be resolved.

“We respect this process,” said Lungisa.

The case was postponed to November 15.

Lundisa, Shogolo, and Guquza are out on bail. Sali was released on a warning. - Sapa


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