2 in court over cancelled R28m North Sea Jazz Festival

Durban – Two businesswomen appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday in connection with the R28m North Sea Jazz Festival that was supposed to take place in the city in 2012.

They are charged with money laundering and corruption, alongside Mike Mabuyakhulu – a top ANC leader in KwaZulu-Natal.

Nothando Zungu, 42, and Ntokozo Ndlovu, 34, are two of nine business people, along with seven companies, facing about 77 charges, including money laundering, corruption, theft and fraud.

Both the women allegedly played a role in a plot to steal nearly R28m from Mabuyakhulu's former department between 2012 and 2013, after the cancellation of the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2012.

According to the indictment, Zungu is one of the main roleplayers alongside Mabuyakhulu – the former KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development and Tourism.

Mabuyakhulu – who is the convener of the provincial ANC's interim leadership team – appeared in the same court with three other accused on February 7 and was granted R50 000 bail.

READ: Senior KZN Ramaphosa supporter charged with corruption

Zungu and Ndlovu's companies, and several other companies belonging to their co-accused, were allegedly paid, despite the festival being cancelled.

Zungu was the sole member of Ishashalazi Productions CC – which is the eighth accused in the case – and was a member of Soft Skills Communications 100 CC, two of the companies which were allegedly paid, regardless of the cancellation of the event, according to the indictment.

Joint venture

According to the indictment, the directors of MPM Productions and International Projects (PTY) LTD (MPM) - a company solely established to bring the North Sea Jazz Festival to South Africa from Netherlands - had an interest in bringing the jazz festival to South Africa.

They then approached Netherlands-based company Mojo Concert BV (Mojo) – the owner of intellectual property rights to the festival - and negotiated with it to acquire a right to host the festival in Durban.

On February 1, 2012, MPM and Mojo entered into a licensing and partnership agreement to host and stage the event in Durban, according to the indictment.

Some weeks after that, MPM and Soft Skills then entered into an agreement to jointly host the event.

On June 1, 2012, the joint venture (MPM and Soft Skills) entered into a three-year funding agreement with Mabuyakulu's former department for an amount of R25m, including VAT, and disbursements with annual inflation increase.

On November 30, 2012, R26 889 900 was paid to Soft Skills. It used the money to pay the entities and individuals who had nothing to do with the festival, according to the indictment.

Granted bail

The indictment further suggests that, between April and July 2012, Zungu furnished the department with a letter saying she was authorised by MPM to act on their behalf.

She had allegedly lied that she was the director of the MPM and Soft Skills joint venture.

In the letter, she allegedly wrote that the department should pay an amount of R969 000 to Soft Skills for the festival's activations, not to the joint venture.

The State alleges that she was not authorised by MPM to act on their behalf, and Soft Skills – which is accused No 3 in the matter – and was not entitled to invoice the department.

"The amount should not have been paid to Soft Skills," said the indictment.

Both Zungu and Ndlovu were granted bail of R30 000.

Another businessman, Mabheleni Ntuli, was granted R30 000 bail on Friday for the same matter.

Ntuli's company Super Size Investments 20 CC, allegedly received payments from Soft Skills after Soft Skills received R26 886 900 from the department.

They will all appear again in court on April 6.

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