Court hears that R26m was paid to North Sea Jazz festival service provider in Mike Mabuyakhulu case
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DURBAN - FORMER chief executive of the Economic Development and Tourism Department Bongani Shezi testified in the corruption trial against ANC provincial deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu in the Durban High Court on Monday.
Mabuyakhulu, who was Economic Development and Tourism MEC in 2012, is in the dock with 15 people, including their companies, for allegedly siphoning R28 million from the department.
In court, Shezi said he feared for consequences should he had ignored the instruction by SMS from the department's head, Desmond Golding. Shezi told the court he was instructed to pay the remaining R26 million to a service provider who was purportedly organising the North Sea Jazz festival.
Shezi is a state witness in the corruption trial against Mabuyakhulu and eight others.
Shezi said he was ordered to pay Soft Skills Communication 100 CC, adding that he feared that he would have been accused of failing to carry out a lawful instruction if he ignored the SMS.
Shezi told the court he thought consequences would follow if he did not do as instructed.
Furthermore, he said the payment was made in November in the hope that Treasury would pay the department back. He alleged that Treasury told him the payment was not supposed to have been made.
The state alleges that Mabuyakhulu's department paid the money, although it knew that the event had been already cancelled.
Shezi earlier told the court that R1,5 million had already been paid to the same service provider to start activation for the event. The State said the total amount to the Soft Skills Communication 100 CC was R28 million.
The event was cancelled after an alleged disagreement with the concept owner from the Netherlands.
Accused number one, Desmond Khalid Golding, who was the department’s head, allegedly instructed Shezi to pay the money to the service providers even though the event was cancelled.
Of that amount, the State alleges that R300 000 was paid to Mabuyakhulu. It was paid into his account by one of the service providers who allegedly acted as a conduit for all other beneficiaries in the scandal.
The other accused in the dock are Mabheleni Ntuli, Walter “Maqobhoza” Mkhize, Zandile Mbongwa, former Gagasi FM personality, Nothando “Mamgo” Zungu, Brenda Ninela and Ntokozo Ndlovu.
Companies that belonged to the accused and were allegedly used to launder the money are Soft Skills Communications 100 CC, Shaka Holdings, Maqhoboza Traders CC, Ishashalazi Productions CC Super Size Investments CC, Ishinga Holdings and DMD Capital (PTY) Ltd.
The accused, including their companies, are facing corruption, fraud, theft and money laundering charges. They were arrested in 2018, and their assets have been attached by the Asset Forfeiture Unit.
Mabuyakhulu is represented by advocate Jimmy Howse. He is out on R50 000 bail.