ANC KZN deputy chair only played a 'peripheral role' in R28m case - new lawyer

ANC KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) deputy chair Mike Mabuyakhulu "only allegedly played a peripheral role" in a "massive" case involving R28m, his new lawyer said on Wednesday.

Mabuyakhulu and seven businessmen and women from the province appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on 77 charges, including money laundering and corruption.

The charges emanate from R28m paid for a North Sea Jazz Festival that was supposed to take place in Durban in 2012.

READ: Top ANC leader from KZN and co-accused back in court over North Sea Jazz Festival

Mabuyakhulu's new lawyer advocate Jimmy Howse told the court that his client only faced six charges out of the 77 charges.

'Prejudice'

"These charges involve only R300 000. His difficulty is that he has been drawn into this entire massive matter due to that. That is prejudice against him," said Howse.

Howse said he also wished that Mabuyakhulu's case could be separated from the rest of the accused because it looked like the case "would drag forever".

"He has a very difficult way forward having now been party to this entire massive trial whereas he only allegedly played a very peripheral role," he said.

READ: Mike Mabuyakhulu should be given a chance to present his case – KZN ANC

The court heard that the top ANC official had requested further particulars in the matter on August 8, following his last court appearance in the matter on April 6.

Howse said he wanted the state to provide a "swift response" to the request for further particulars.

The state said that it could only provide the response to the request on October 16 because three other accused had also requested for further particulars on August 21.

Howse argued that the proposal to reply on October 16 would be "prejudice" against Mabuyakhulu.

"The prosecuting team consists of four senior prosecutors. We want the responses in the next two weeks because he [Mabuyakhulu] wants to take further steps relating to the replies," said Howse.

He asked the court to make an order for the state to furnish them with the replies in mid-September.

'No preferential treatment'

The state argued that all accused be treated equally before the court and that there would be "no preferential treatment".

Magistrate Christophiner Mazibuko ruled that the state must reply by October 16.

Mabuyakhulu, who is out on R50 000 bail, appeared alongside Ceaser Walter Mkhize, Mabheleni Ntuli, Mzwandile Basil Ninela, Nonhlanhla Brenda Ninela, Nothando Lorraine Zungu, Ntokozo Ndlovu and Njabulo Mbongwe Mkhize.

Their companies, Desmond Khalid Golding, DMD Capital PTY LTD, Ishashalazi Production CC, Ishinga Holdings, Maqhoboza Traders CC, Shaka Holdings, Soft Skills Communications 100 CC and Supersize Investment 20CC are some of the 16 accused in the matter.

The eight accused and their companies face about 77 charges, including theft and fraud.

Mabuyakhulu's co-accused allegedly played a role in a plot to steal nearly R28m from his 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 role players alongside Mabuyakhulu - the former KZN MEC for economic development and tourism.

'Paid for nothing'

The companies of Mabuyakhulu's co-accused were allegedly paid, despite the festival being cancelled.

The court also heard that Zungu would be out of the country on October 16.

"They still have their passports?" the surprised Mazibuko asked.

Zungu's lawyer said her client had not been asked to hand in her passport.

Mazibuko said if Zungu were not in court on the date, a warrant of arrest would be issued against her until she availed herself.

The case was previously adjourned for a High Court date to be set but that could not happen because Mabuyakhulu and three other accused asked for further documents.

Mazibuko postponed the matter to October 16. All the accused are out on bail.

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