Former youth agency leader in court

INTERNATIONAL R&B star R Kelly was oblivious to the R2.5-million scandal unfolding around his punted performance at the Nelson Mandela Sports and Culture Day concert in South Africa last year.

But the charge sheet in the criminal case against former National Youth Development Agency head Andile Lungisa, 35, and several co-accused tells a different story.

At the time, Kelly was depicted as leaving concert-goers high and dry by his last-minute backtracking on a promise to perform.

Yesterday, Lungisa, together with his wife, Ursula Sali, 25, and business associates Xolisile Guqaza and Thabo Shogole, appeared briefly in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Johannesburg.

The four are facing a host of charges, including fraud and money laundering, for allegedly duping the Arts and Culture Department into paying R2.5-million for Kelly’s performance at the concert at Johannesburg’s Soccer City in August – despite Kelly knowing nothing about the arrangements.

After court proceedings, Sali was visibly upset and screamed. When Lungisa tried to pacify her, she kicked him while he laughed it off and said everything was “fine”.

The charge sheet reflects separate home addresses for the two. All the accused are out on bail, except Sali, who is out on a warning.

According to the charge sheet, Lungisa had a meeting with representatives from the department and concert organisers in July, when he claimed to represent VBT Consulting, Kelly’s local promoters. He allegedly claimed he and his associates were already hosting Kelly at the Orlando and Moses Mabhida stadiums’ Single Ladies tour in August and could get the international artist to perform at the Soccer City event too.

An amount of R2.5-million was to be paid to VBT Consulting. However, Lungisa allegedly asked that the money rather be paid into the bank account of Sichomgoma Suppliers.

The prosecution alleges that the amount was transferred on August 12 – but Kelly had already left the country the day before.

According to the charge sheet, it later emerged that all the documents regarding the arrangements were fraudulent, including the signed documents from the singer’s managing agent. “It was subsequently discovered that R Kelly never contracted to perform at the [Nelson Mandela Sports and Culture Day] … and that all documentation provided purporting to mandate and ratify such an arrangement was in fact fraudulent.”

It is alleged that Lungisa received R20000 in his personal account, and a further R1.5- million, which was allegedly transferred into another account, of which Lungisa and his wife were the sole signatories. Lungisa has denied receiving a cent from the deal.

The case was postponed to June 9. – Leonie Wagner

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