The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal has said that the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) recent defeat in the corruption case against the African National Congress' (ANC's) former provincial deputy chairperson Mike Mabuyakhulu and 15 others contributed to a loss of public confidence in the State.
Mabuyakhulu and his co-accused were charged in connection with the R28.5-million North Sea Jazz Festival that was meant to take place in 2012 but failed to kick off.
The State alleged that service providers were irregularly paid while the politicians and government officials involved received kickbacks.
Mabuyakhulu was KwaZulu-Natal's MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs at the time.
The State claimed that he received R300 000 as a bribe.
On Tuesday, the ANC KwaZulu-Natal heavyweight and his co-accused were acquitted of the charges against them due to insufficient evidence.
In his 100-page judgment, which took three hours to read, Judge Mahendra Chetty said, "The leading of evidence of financial transactions is critical to the outcome of cases of corruption and money laundering.
"The State is obliged to join the dots. It is not for this court to do so or to speculate."
Chetty specified that some allegations against the accused were a "stretch too far" and that "mere suspicions" were insufficient for a criminal trial.
Speaking to the media after his acquittal, an excited Mabuyakhulu said he felt vindicated.
"We made it clear at the outset, when these charges were preferred against us, that we were innocent of any wrongdoing against the state and people of South Africa," he said in a previous News24 report.
DA KwaZulu-Natal leader Francois Rodgers said they had written to Advocate Elaine Zungu, the NPA head in KwaZulu-Natal, for "steps to future-proof the organisation's ability to ensure justice".
Rodgers accused the NPA of ineptitude and failure to live up to the promise set out in its indictment in the case against Mabuyakhulu and others.
"It is disappointing to note that the inability of the KwaZulu-Natal prosecution authorities has led, once again, to the failure of accountability and consequence in matters of such importance," he wrote.
"Judgments of this nature lead to an erosion of confidence in the prosecutorial efficacy of your office, particularly in the current climate of maladministration and corruption in our province," he continued.
News24 sent a detailed list of questions to the NPA on not giving the court sufficient evidence on the matter and whether it planned to appeal Chetty's judgment.
NPA KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Natasha Kara said: "We noted the judgment and have no further comment to add."