One of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa's biggest supporters in KwaZulu-Natal and the convenor of the party's provincial task team (PTT) has been charged with corruption and money laundering.
Mike Mabuyakhulu, the former MEC for economic development and tourism, appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday, together with three other accused.
Mabuyakhulu stands accused of accepting money while he was an MEC, after the R28-million North Sea JazzFestival was cancelled in 2012.
The court heard that companies headed up by Mabuyakhulu's co-accused were paid, despite the festival being cancelled. The formal charges he faces include fraud, corruption, theft and money laundering.
There have been allegations of political interference since Mabuyakhulu was appointed to head the PTT.
Mabuyakhulu was kicked out of the provincial government in 2016, when the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal – led by then-chairperson Sihle Zikalala – fired supporters of the Senzo Mchunu faction.
Mabuyakhulu, who is the former provincial treasurer of the ANC, was appointed convener of the PTT after the national executive committee (NEC) suspended the provincial leadership of the ANC, led by Zikalala, after the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg nullified the provincial executive committee elected in 2015.
Mabuyakhulu was part of the camp aligned Mchunu, which lost at the conference.
He openly campaigned alongside Mchunu for Cyril Ramaphosa in the build-up to the ANC December conference.
A well-dressed Mabuyakhulu was all smiles as he appeared in court shortly after noon.