The affordable education loan option
Johannesburg - Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula on Saturday denied putting pressure on the justice system to arrest former National Youth Development Agency chairman Andile Lungisa.
“I am shocked and dismayed at Andile Lungisa’s unprovoked attack and diatribe against me,” Mbalula said in a statement.
He was responding to allegations made by Lungisa and his lawyer after his court appearance at the Specialised Crime Court in Johannesburg on Friday. Mbalula vowed to testify before the courts about events that involved Lungisa in the R Kelly saga.
Lungisa was arrested along with his wife Ursula Sali, Thabo Shogolo, and Xolisile Guquza for allegedly accepting and sharing among themselves R2.5 million paid by the arts and culture department for the Nelson Mandela Sports Day concert.
They allegedly promised that United States singer R Kelly would perform at the concert, but he did not.
The three were arrested after handing themselves over to the Hawks on Friday. After being granted bail, Lungisa launched a scathing attack on 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 African National Congress secretary general at the party's elective conference in Mangaung last year.
Lungisa claimed that since then, Mbalula had, among other things, ensured his removal as ANC Youth League deputy president.
Mbalula refuted the claims and said it was laughable for Lungisa to believe he had power within the ANC.
“His claims that I have an axe to grind with him because he opposed my candidacy as secretary general of the ANC at the Mangaung conference, are at best laughable, and at worst smack of blatant political opportunism.
“Lungisa is no kingmaker in the ANC and to suggest that he wields such political power to sway the fate of individual leaders is nothing short of delusions of grandeur,” he said.
Mbalula said it was unfortunate that Lungisa chose to drag his name into what was clearly a criminal matter in an attempt to add a political flavour for expediency.
“I find it rather naïve to the extreme for Lungisa to suggest that I brought pressure to bear on the law enforcement agencies to charge and arrest him because of some political differences.”
Mbalula said the merits and demerits of the case was something that should be ventilated before the courts where his innocence or guilt would be proven.
He said Lungisa's antics were laughable and clearly demonstrated calculated actions of an individual who seeks political refuge from his situation.
Mbalula said he was weighing his options on whether to sue for defamation.