Mabuyakhulu and co-accused are no shows as R28m jazz festival corruption trial is postponed

It was a case of Monday blues in the Durban high court as the almost decade-long R28m failed jazz festival corruption case against ANC deputy KwaZulu-Natal chair Mike Mabuyakhulu and 15 other individuals and companies was postponed again.

KwaZulu-Natal ANC deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu at the Durban Commercial Crime Court during a previous court appearance on charges of fraud, corruption, theft and money laundering.

In a case that has played out since 2018, the matter was adjourned for trial to September 6.

It proceeded in absentia of Mabuyakhulu and his co-accused as the court heard they had been excused from Monday’s proceedings.

The accused in the case are Mabuyakhulu, former economic development department head Desmond Golding and event organisers Ceaser Mkhize, Mabheleni Ntuli, Basil Ninela and his wife Brenda, Nothando Zungu, Ntokozo Ndlovu and Njabulo Mkhize.

They are facing charges of fraud‚ corruption and money laundering relating to the multi-million figure paid by the provincial government in 2012 for the North Sea Jazz Festival to have been held in 2013‚ but which never happened.

Durban businessman Ntuli and Mabuyakhulu had previously been cited among the five main roleplayers in the matter.

The other main roleplayers are Golding‚ Mkhize‚ who is the owner of Soft Skills Communications‚ Maqhoboza Traders and Shaka Holding‚ and Zungu‚ a member of Soft Skills Communications and sole member of Ishashalazi Production.

The accused face 77 counts of money laundering, corruption and fraud over the payments, of which Mabuyakhulu allegedly benefited R330,000.

They were arrested during a joint operation by the Hawks’ serious organised crime unit in February 2018.

The court heard the bail of the accused would be extended until trial, which has been set down for a month until October 8.

According to the indictment‚ the concept of the jazz festival was proposed to the KwaZulu-Natal economic development and tourism department by a Netherlands-based company‚ MPM Productions and International Projects.

The company was solely established to bring the North Sea Jazz Festival to SA from the Netherlands.

The department allegedly agreed to fund it on condition the Dutch company formed a joint venture with a local company‚ Soft Skills Communications‚ which‚ according to the indictment‚ is owned by Mkhize.

However‚ according to the Hawks‚ the agreement was allegedly altered by the department and the local company without the knowledge of the Dutch partners.

When the change was discovered‚ Netherlands-based Mojo Concerts BV‚ the intellectual property owners of the festival‚ cancelled the agreement with Soft Skills Communications.

Mabuyakhulu, who was aligned to the CR17 campaign‚ is out on R50‚000 bail.

The trial will be heard in the Durban magistrate’s court to accommodate the large number of accused and media personnel surrounding the high-profile corruption case.

TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)

Orrin Singh

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