Johannesburg - Former National Youth Development Agency head Andile Lungisa appeared in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Friday for alleged fraud and money-laundering.
He appeared with Thabo Shogolo, Xolisile Guquza, and Ursula Sali 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 US singer R Kelly would perform at the concert, but he did not.
Lungisa and the other three were arrested after handing themselves over to the Hawks on Friday.
In their court appearance later in the day, Lungisa and Shogolo were granted bail of R10 000 each, Guquza was granted bail of R5 000, and Sali was released on a warning. They were instructed to surrender their passports to the investigating officer, and not to make contact with the State witnesses.
The case was postponed until October 30.
At the time of the concert, the department said it had entered into negotiations with the promoter of Kelly's recent tour to South Africa.
It was subsequently announced that the star was on the bill for a music concert that would follow the Nelson Mandela Day's sporting events.
However, it was discovered that R Kelly's management had been unaware of the agreement, and that he had left the country as planned.
Speaking outside court on Friday, Lungisa's lawyer Thabo Kwinana claimed 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 1/8the National Prosecuting Authority 3/8 to act against the accused in a civil matter and which has been turned to become a criminal matter,” he said.
He said a government minister, whom he refused to name, 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.
“So, what is his motives, motivation I don't have a clue, and I don't like to speculate. Let's hope they will become clear as this thing unfolds or crumbles,” he said.
Lungisa named the politician as Sports Minister Fikile 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.
He said he hoped the case would proceed smoothly, without any more of this kind of interference.
Mbalula's office had not heard of the allegations, but encouraged Lungisa to focus on the case and not drag people's name through the mud.
Mbalula's spokesman Paena Galane said the possibility of taking legal action against Lungisa would be considered.