Mike Mabuyakhulu, the convener of the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial task team, has been released on R50 000 bail after being arrested for corruption on Thursday over R28-million in provincial government funding that was spent on a jazz festival that never happened.
Mabuyakhulu, the former economic development MEC who was fired in 2016 in a post-elective conference reshuffle, appeared in the Durban Commercial Crime Court alongside 15 co-accused, among them, celebrity businessman Mabheleni Ntuli.
Mabuyakhulu, his former head of department Desmond Golding and a group of service providers were arrested by the Hawks over the funding of the 2012 festival which never happened.
Their arrest comes shortly after the appointment of Mabuyakhulu—who coordinated ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign for the December conference in the province— as head of the provincial task team and will be interpreted by some as a political move against the Ramaphosa camp in the province.
Mabuyakhulu was arrested for corruption several years ago in the infamous ‘’Amigos’’ case together with axed MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, over an alleged R1-million bribe for the ANC from Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi. The case against the two was later withdrawn, sparking speculation that it was motivated by the ANC succession battle in the province.
It is not known at this stage what impact the arrest of Mabuyakhulu, who runs the provincial task team along with former chairperson Sihle Zikalala, will have on the process of re-running the unlawful 2015 elective provincial conference. The Pietermaritzburg High Court declared the conference unlawful and the ANC national executive commitee last month appointed the task team to oversee the re-run within three month.
According to the charge sheet, Golding made payments to co-accused Caesar Mkhize’s Soft Skills Communications of R28.5-million for the North Sea Jazz Festival, which was meant to be held in 2012— despite the fact that the event had been cancelled. The money was allegedly distributed among the other companies, including Ntuli’s Super Size Investment, which were meant to have been part of a joint venture with a Rotterdam based partner. The event was cancelled after the agreement was altered by the department to bring in other local companies, but the payments were still made.
The co-accused— Zandile Mbongwe, Nothando Zungu of Ishashalazi Production, Ntuli, Brenda and Mzwandile Ninela of Ishinga Holdings and Ntokozo Ndlovu of DMD Capital— were all released on bail of R30 000. They will appear in court again on April 8.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo, said more arrests were expected to be made soon.