Top ANC man in KZN heads to court to quash corruption charges

2019-03-04 16:29
Mike Mabuyakhulu. (Siyabonga Mosunkutu)

Mike Mabuyakhulu. (Siyabonga Mosunkutu)

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KwaZulu-Natal ANC deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu has officially launched an application to quash corruption charges he is facing relating to a failed jazz festival in 2012, arguing that the charges against him are "political", and are preventing him pursuing a career in public office.

With the May elections looming, he says he has already had to remove his name from the ANC list in the province and that his image has been tarnished.

If he succeeds, his case will be struck from the court roll and will not be allowed to be reinstated without the authority of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

If it fails, Mabuyakhulu can make an application to the high court for a permanent stay of prosecution, also based on unfair trial delay.

READ: Court case delays compromising ANC KZN bigwigs ability to hold office - lawyer

The charges relate to allegations that, during his tenure as MEC of economic development in the province, he authorised the payment of R28m into various accounts for the festival, which never took place, and then received a R300 000 kickback.

He is charged along with 15 other individuals and companies, including the former head of his department Desmond Golding.

In his affidavit in support of his application which was filed in the Durban Commercial Crime Court on Monday, Mabuyakhulu said all the charges dated back to 2012 and 2013 - six to seven years ago - and that the investigation had begun then.

"There can be no complaint by the State that they have had insufficient time to investigate fully and formulate the final charge sheet," he said.

'I do question the timing'

He said, further, that civil proceedings had been instituted against the entities which had received payment from the department.

He had been the plaintiff in those proceedings and he had worked closely with the attorneys.

"It was never alleged that I was party to any irregular or unlawful procurement of services or fraudulent payments of funds.

"Similarly, I was never approached by the police during the entire period of the investigation... the police did not come to me with a single query and I had no idea that I featured in this investigation until I was charged."

He said the timing of the decision to prosecute him was relevant because it coincided with political changes in the leadership of the country, including a decision to remove former president Jacob Zuma, and "significant political maneuvering" preceding his removal.

"The decision to place me before the court on February 7, 2018, was at a crucial stage during the political maneuvering and, while I do not have actual evidence that it played a role, I do question the timing."

'My image and reputation are tarnished'

He also questioned last-minute changes to the indictment, with the addition of two new charges made after he had already applied for further particulars to the charges.

"I now have to start the entire process of analysing these charges afresh and request further particulars again.

"And there is no indication that this is now the final indictment."

READ: Asset Forfeiture Unit swoops on ANC KZN deputy chair, 7 others in North Sea jazz graft probe

Regarding prejudice, he said he was unable to take up public office while this case hung over his head.

"If this case is finalised or struck from the roll prior to the elections, I will be able to request that I again be included. Effectively this case is preventing me from pursuing my career in public office.

"I am a well known public figure. Even though I enjoy the presumption of innocence, an inevitable consequence of the charge of this nature is that my image and reputation are tarnished in the public eye."

The matter is expected to be heard at the end of April. 

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