The ANC's KZN deputy chairman, Mike Mabuyakhulu, will stand trial on corruption and money-laundering charges after he failed in his bid to have the charges dropped. Durban Commercial Crime Court Magistrate Dawn Soomaroo yesterday ruled against Mabuyakhulu, who will now stand trial along with 15 others arrested with him last year.

Mabuyakhulu is accused of receiving a R300 000 'gratification' relating to the failed North Sea Jazz Festival in 2012.

TimesLIVE says he first, unsuccessfully, attempted to sway prosecutors into letting him stand trial separately, in the hope of clearing his name ahead of the elections and allowing him to take up public office again. He then launched an application to have the charges quashed, arguing prejudice and claiming there was political interference at play.

Mabuyakhulu is facing five charges in what the state now says is a final indictment after amending a previous indictment served on him and the other accused in October last year. The essence of the changes is that he is now being charged as a holder of public office (as the MEC for Economic Affairs & Tourism, and the chair of the province's sub-committee on major events at the time).

He is accused of abusing his position of authority and a breach of trust. The R300 000 in question was either a 'benefit to himself or another person', it is alleged. He is accused of using his influence to the benefit of others.

It emerged during argument that the defence team had met with the prosecutions team in August last year. While the state claimed that at this meeting his advocate, Jimmy Howse, had suggested he become a '204 witness against the other accused', this was denied by Howse.

He said it had only been suggested that he could be 'a witness', notes TimesLIVE.

In her ruling, Soomaroo agreed with submission by the state that the charges, in essence, had remained the same. She said there was no evidence of any political interference. Mabuyakhulu had been arrested at the same time as everyone else, after a complex five-year investigation into what was alleged to be a crime involving R28m.

She said Mabuyakhulu had presented 'speculative' and not 'definitive' prejudice.

'Public funds are involved and the public has a direct interest in the outcome of this matter. If it is struck from the roll, it will bring the administration of justice into disrepute because it will mean the charges will have to be withdrawn against all the accused.’

Full TimesLIVE report