ANC KZN “task team” convener and former MEC for Economic Development in KwaZulu-Natal, Mike Mabuyakhulu, with his attorney Shaukat Karim leaves the Durban Commercial Crime Court on Wednesday after appearing on charges related to R28 million that the provincial government forked out for a festival that never took place. Picture: Zanele Zulu/AfricanNewsAgency(ANA)
ANC KZN “task team” convener and former MEC for Economic Development in KwaZulu-Natal, Mike Mabuyakhulu, has found himself in the dock again.

Mabuyakhulu and his one time Head of Department, Desmond Golding, were before the Durban Commercial Crimes Court yesterday, to answer to a raft of charges.

The charges stem from R28 million which the KZN government in 2012 forked out for a music festival that never took place.

The money, the State says, ended up being channelled into various accounts belonging to a range of business people, their companies and politicians -  among them Mabuyakhulu, Golding and 14 co-accused.

Both Mabuyakhulu and Golding stand accused of money laundering and corruption while Golding is also facing charges of contravening the Public Finance Management Act and fraud, or alternatively theft.

As per the indictment, MPM Production and International Projects (Pty) Ltd, was to bring the Netherlands-based North Sea Jazz Festival to South Africa.

MPM’s directors negotiated with Mojo Concert BV, which owns the rights to the festival, and in February 2012, the two entered into an agreement to host the festival in Durban.

They met with then Economic Development MEC Mabuyakhulu, “who expressed his interest in hosting the event in Durban”.

HOD Golding invited MPM to present their proposal to the department.

However, before the official presentation, Golding, the State alleges, met privately with representatives of MPM and another company, Soft Skills Communications 100 CC, at the Hilton Hotel, where Golding allegedly advised MPM representatives that his department could only agree to the deal if Soft Skills was brought on board.

MPM and Soft Skills formed a joint venture, contrary to the existing legislation including the Public Finance Management Act and treasury guidelines.

The newly formed joint venture came before the the province’s major events sub-committee, of which Mabuyakhulu was the chair in May 2012.

The committee agreed, in principle, to support the hosting of the festival in Durban and subsequently entered into a R25 million funding agreement.

But then, it’s alleged Soft Skills went behind MPM’s back and entered into a second agreement with the department to host the same event.

This agreement was allegedly drafted on June 30, but at the behest of Golding, backdated to June 1.

Days later, the State says, Golding gave an instruction for the department to effect payment of R969 000 to Soft Skills, for “activations”.

Then Mojo cancelled MPM’s licensing and partnership agreement due to “noncompliance with their contractual obligations”. 

In November, Golding instructed the drafting of yet another agreement - this time between the department, Mojo and Soft Skills. But Mojo never signed it.

Later that month, Golding allegedly instructed the payment of R26 889 900 to Soft Skills.
Despite the fact that there was no agreement between Mojo and Soft Skills to host the festival, payment - the State says - was made four days later.

The State alleges that within 24 hours, more than R8 million had already been siphoned off from Softs Skills’ account into other accounts - including R300 000, which was transferred to Mabuyakhulu’s personal bank account using the reference “Ndiyema,” his clan name.

Over the course of the next seven months, funds allegedly flowed out of Soft Skills’ account including: 
- R200 000 allegedly paid to one of the accused for “decor hire”;
- R368 000 was allegedly transferred to Mercedes Benz Durban for the purchase of a luxury C180 for another.

Mabuyakhulu was previously charged alongside several other high profile politicians and business people in the so called “Amigos” case involving a R144-million tender for the supply of water purification plants to KZN hospitals.

However the charges against him were subsequently withdrawn, under a cloud of controversy.

In yesterday's court appearance Mabuyakhulu was one of six accused in the dock including four people who also represent business entities.

Bail was unopposed by the State but State advocate Mlungisi Mgwanyana wanted it set at R100 000 for Mabuyakhulu, Golding and the other “main role players”.

Mabuyakhula’s advocate Paul Jorgensen, instructed by Shaukat Karim, however, argued that his client had handed himself over to police and that bail was not intended to be punitive.

Magistrate Christobel Mazibuko agreed and set bail for Mabuyakhulu and Golding at R50 000. She set their co-accused’s bails at varying amounts, ranging from R30 000 to R50 000 and adjourned the case until April.

Another three, all of whom also represent business entities, were not present but they are expected to appear later this month.