Durban – Politically-connected Durban businessman, Mabheleni Ntuli, was granted R30 000 bail on Friday at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court in the same case in which KwaZulu-Natal politician Mike Mabuyakhulu and several others are accused of graft.
Mabuyakhulu was this year appointed as the convenor of the ANC' interim leadership team in KwaZulu-Natal. He is tasked, along with other local ANC heavyweights, to prepare the party to hold a new provincial conference at which new leadership is to be elected.
This after the Pietermaritzburg High Court found last year that the party's 2015 KZN conference was invalid and void. Mabuyakhulu also leads a faction in the province that successfully lobbied for SA deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to be the ruling party's new president.
Ntuli, a known benefactor of president Jacob Zuma, handed himself over to the police on Friday morning.
He told magistrate Christobel Mazibuko that he would be pleading not guilty to all charges. He said he earned about R80 000 per month and had no prior criminal history.
Ntuli also told the court that he did not appear on Wednesday, when Mabuyakhulu and several others appeared, because he had made a prior arrangement and was not in Durban.
He was ordered to appear again on April 6, the same day Mabuyakhulu and the other co-accused are set to appear.
Ntuli rushed from the court as soon as proceedings ended, trying to avoid journalists and photographers.
The Durban businessman is one of nine accused, along with seven companies, facing charges of money laundering, corruption, theft and fraud for his alleged part in a plot to steal nearly R27 million from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism between 2012 and 2013 via a music festival that was paid for by the department but never took place.
Ntuli and his company, Super Size Investments 20 CC, are accused number 9 and 10 respectively ion the list of the 16 suspects and face charges of corruption and money laundering.
The indictment indicates that Super Size Investments and the other co-accused received payments from a local company called Soft Skills Communication 20 CC after Soft Skills received R26 886 900 from the department on the pretext that it was hosting, in Durban, the North Sea Jazz Festival, which hails from the Netherlands.
The payment was ordered by then department head, Desmond Golding, (accused number one) even though he knew the festival would not be going ahead. Golding is also accused of, among other things, insisting that Soft Skills be brought on board to facilitate the event.
Mabuyakhulu was MEC of the department at the time.
The indictment alleges that on 30 November 2012, several of the co-accused paid an amount of R2 204 000 to Super Size Investments “under the pretext of the North Sea Jazz Festival”.
The indictment further states that in the period between 11 to 28 February 2013, Super Size Investments along with several other accused “made several payments totalling R1 000 000 to an attorney on behalf of [Golding]”.
The state alleges that the contracts created by the department to host the festival were deliberately completed to try and circumvent the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations, for fraudulent motives.
The state also alleges that Mabuyakhulu received a payment of R300 000 into his personal bank account on 30 November 2012. “The money was paid under the reference ‘Ndiyema’, the clan name for Mabuyakhulu,” the indictment states.
Several other accused are expected to hand themselves over shortly, according to the Hawks.
African News Agency/ANA