Lungisa: I still have respect for comrade Mbalula

Former National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) boss Andile Lungisa said on Wednesday he respected Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula.

 "I don't have any ill-feelings against him or anyone," said Lungisa. "I have respect for comrade Mbalula."

Lungisa was speaking outside the Johannesburg Special Commercialised Crimes Court after he and three co-accused – his wife Ursula Sali, Thabo Shogolo, and Xolisile Guquza – appeared for fraud and money-laundering.

The four are accused of 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.

At the time, Mbalula said this act was committed by people who wanted to get rich "in a split of a second" by lying to the department.

They were arrested after handing themselves over to the Hawks earlier this month. Lungisa and Shogolo were granted bail of R10 000 each, Guquza was granted bail of R5 000, and Sali was released on a warning.

Earlier this month, Lungisa's lawyer Thabo Kwinana told reporters 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 [the National Prosecuting Authority] to act against the accused in a civil matter and which has been turned to become a criminal matter," he said.

He claimed a government minister 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," he said.

​At the time, Lungisa named the politician as 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 ANC secretary general at the party's elective conference in Mangaung last year.

Mbalula has denied the allegations.

"I am shocked and dismayed at Andile Lungisa's unprovoked attack and diatribe against me," Mbalula said in a statement at the time.

Lungisa has since requested that he be relieved of his political duties as an ANC Eastern Cape executive committee member while he deals with the charges against him.

On Wednesday, he said he wanted the political work to continue without him. He said he had faith in the country's courts and that the matter would be resolved.

"We respect this process," said Lungisa.

The case was postponed to November 15. Lundisa, Shogolo, and Guquza are out on bail. Sali was released on a warning.

Lungisa and his co-accused made a brief appearance in court. Lungisa and Sali were dressed in black outfits as they stood before the court. Shogolo was wearing a royal blue suit while Guquza wore a light blue suit over a pink shirt.

Before the case began, Guquza placed a Nando's paper bag over his head in an attempt to hide from the flashing cameras. A few people shifted around the court gallery to avoid the cameras.

"I don't want to appear in such things," said one man.

Another man sitting directly behind Guquza ducked in his seat. – Sapa

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