KwaZulu-Natal ANC deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu. Photo: Motshwari Mofokeng / African News Agency(ANA)

Durban – The multi-million rand graft case involving KwaZulu-Natal African National Congress deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu and several others has been postponed to 2019. 

Mabuyakhulu appeared briefly along with his co-accused in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday for his alleged role in the scam. 

The former economic affairs MEC (member of executive council) and his co-accused will appear again on February 1. KwaZulu-Natal National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Kara said the state had to respond to further particulars of the defence.  

The 16 accused – including seven companies – allegedly defrauded the KwaZulu-Natal government of about R28-million by paying for a jazz festival that never materialised. Mabuyakhulu was MEC at the time. 

They face 77 charges -  27 for corruption, two for fraud, one for theft and 46 for money-laundering. There is also one count of contravening the Public Finance Management Act. The accused were arrested in February 2018. 

At Mabuyakhulu’s last appearance, his legal representative, Jimmy Howse SC, a well known KZN advocate who has represented some of Durban’s most controversial business families, told the court he intended to ask for a separate trial as his client was only facing six of the 77 charges. 

He also told the court Mabuyakhulu played a “peripheral role” in the matter. 

The alleged fraud took place between July 2012 and November 2012.

According to the indictment, in January 2012, MPM Productions and International Projects (Pty) Ltd pitched to Mabuyakhulu to bring the North Sea Jazz Festival to Durban.

Mabuyakhulu agreed to the deal and his then head of department Dennis Golding, allegedly stipulated that the local partner was to be Soft Skills Communication 100 CC, owned by Walter Mkhize.

But on 2 October 2012, Rotterdam-based Mojo Concert BV, who owned the North Sea Jazz Festival brand, pulled the plug on MPM’s rights to host the event.

Golding then allegedly had a new sham agreement drawn up and in November 2012 ordered that R26 886 900 be paid to Soft Skills. Nearly R2-million had already been paid to the company by this stage.

The indictment reveals how Mkhize then made a series of payments in an alleged laundering exercise that saw Mabuyakhulu receive R300,000 into his private bank account, using the reference “Ndiyema”, Mabuyakhulu’s clan name.

Other payments were to suppliers for services never rendered and the purchase of cars such as a Mercedes Benz and Range Rover.

African News Agency/ANA