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DURBAN – The Hawks Serious Corruption Investigation Unit in KwaZulu-Natal arrested six accused including former MEC for Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Michael Mabuyakhulu (53) and former Head of Department Desmond Golding (46) alleged for fraud, corruption, money laundering and contraventions of Public Finance Management Act estimated at R28 million.

The other accused are service providers, Ceaser Mkhize (38), Zandile Mkhize (37), Nonhlanhla Ninela (44) and Mzwandile Ninela (44). The six allegedly unduly benefited from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDT) through irregular procurement process during 2012/2013.

It is alleged the DEDT planned to host a major event known a North Sea Jazz Festival (NSJF) in Kwazulu Natal towards the end of 2013. The concept of (NSJF) had been brought about by a foreign based company. The DEDT allegedly accepted the concept and agreed to fund the event on condition that foreign based company forms a joint venture with a local company.

It allegedly transpired that the said agreement was altered by DEDT and the local company without the knowledge of the overseas company. Having had about the alteration the international license holder cancelled the agreement with the local partner and that was communicated to the Head of Department. This meant that the NSJF could not proceed as planned, however a full project amount (R28.5 million) was paid to the service provider (local company).

It is understood that the said event was supposed to be sanctioned by the Cabinet and during a fact finding mission to Rotterdam in Holland officials, they were shocked when they saw advertisements around the NSJF which is set to take place in South Africa.

The matter was brought to the attention of the Hawks who kick-started the investigation in earnest. The investigations confirmed allegations of corruption and possible collusion leading to the arrest of the six suspects.

All six suspects appeared briefly in the Durban Specialised Commercial Court today and they were granted bail between R50000 and R30000 respectively. The case was postponed to 06 April 2018 and more arrests are imminent.