North Sea Jazz Festival trial to proceed despite court dismissing unreasonable delay application

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ANC KZN deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu at a prayer meeting at City Hall on 18 April 2021 in Durban.
ANC KZN deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu at a prayer meeting at City Hall on 18 April 2021 in Durban.
PHOTO: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images
  • The court dismissed an application by Mike Mabuyakhulu and his co-accused relating to the North Sea Jazz Festival case.
  • Companies involved were allegedly paid R28 million, but the festival did not take place.
  • The criminal matter continues in October.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed an application by ANC heavyweight Mike Mabuyakhulu and his co-accused in their corruption trial, relating to the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Mabuyakhulu, who is out on R50 000 bail, along with 15 others, filed an unreasonable delay application.

They argued that the prosecution was dragging the case in which they are facing various charges, including theft, fraud and money laundering.

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 - were allegedly paid R28 million for the festival that was meant to take place in Durban in 2012.

In a judgment, delivered on Wednesday by Judge Mahendra Chetty, the court noted that it was not in dispute there had been numerous delays in the trial that commenced in August 2021.

"These delays have taken the form of State witnesses not being available punctually at court, or adjournments being occasioned where one witness has concluded his or her testimony, without the State having another witness in readiness to testify," the papers read.

Mabuyakhulu and his co-accused submitted, among other things, that the protracted trial, worsened by "unreasonable delays", had taken a financial toll on the accused, as well as an emotional and societal impact.

READ | Top ANC leader from KZN and his co-accused in court over North Sea Jazz Festival fiasco

In their application, Mabuyakhulu and his co-accused did not seek a stay of prosecution. They sought for the State to be placed on terms to ensure that witnesses are subpoenaed to appear in court in advance.

The State opposed the application.

It contended that it was not always possible to secure the attendance of witnesses since many were employed in the entertainment and events management industry.

The State also contended, among other things, that the delays could not be solely attributed to it. It argued that the matter was complex, spanning several charges against multiple accused and involved financial transactions of juristic entities and natural persons.

After reflecting on the nature of the delays, Judge Chetty dismissed the application on the basis that the delays were not unreasonable.

"In the result, while the application fails, the accused are not left without redress.

"The State has agreed and committed itself to certain mechanisms, which will be implemented for the remainder of the trial aimed at minimising the delays complained of by the accused," he said.

The criminal trial proceedings have been provisionally adjourned to 3 October.

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