A KZN High Court (Durban) judge presiding over a R28m corruption case involving KZN ANC deputy chair Mike Mabuyakhulu has ordered that anyone attending the trial must produce proof of having had a Covid-19 vaccination. This includes the accused, their lawyers, other legal representatives, members of the public and the media, according to a Sunday Times report. Judge Mahendra Chetty also directed that anyone unvaccinated or who cannot produce proof of vaccination must undergo a Covid-19 test and produce a clear result to his registrar. Chetty made the extraordinary ruling last week when the trial of the nine accused was set to begin.
The accused – Mabuyakhulu, who at the time of the alleged crime was Economic Development MEC, former Economic Development Department head Desmond Golding, event organizers Ceaser Mkhize, Mabheleni Ntuli, Basil Ninela and his wife Brenda, Nothando Zungu, Ntokozo Ndlovu and Njabulo Mkhize – face fraud, money-laundering and corruption charges relating to a failed R28m North Sea Jazz Festival in 2013. The Sunday Times says it was told that with the number of accused and their legal representatives there were more than 30 people in the courtroom and the judge had indicated he wanted to safeguard the health of all so the trial could proceed. The source said some people had complied and produced proof of their vaccination status. The trial stood down for a week to allow the state and defence to exchange documents. Judge President Achmat Jappie said he supported Chetty’s decision. ‘I completely understand why he made this ruling ... the courtroom is rather cramped ... if we don’t take positive action, we will have a super-spreader event on our hands.’