“We will get our money back,” department spokesman Mack Lewele said on Thursday.
The amount was paid to Sishongoma Suppliers, which promised to bring the singer to the FNB Stadium.
Lewele said: “What is [now] important for us is to get the show going. The event was not based on R Kelly. We have other stars lined up for the show.”
Lewele said former National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) chairman Andile Lungisa was not involved in the matter, as reported. He said Sishongoma had promised to bring R Kelly to FNB Stadium and was paid for its services.
The department realised on Wednesday that the singer was not in the country and would not perform on Saturday, Lewele said. He would not comment whether criminal charges would be brought against the company.
“We cannot pre-empt that, we are still going to meet with our legal team.”
When contacted for comment, a man at Sishongoma Suppliers who identified himself as Xolisile Xasa, denied having had a contract with the department.
“I have never received any payment whatsoever from the department. I do not have a contract with them,” he said before directing Sapa to his lawyer, a Mr Kwenana. Kwenana’s cellphone was switched off.
Earlier, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said a few individuals, whom he did not name, wanted to get rich “in a split of a second” by lying to the department.
“This was a scheme by people who wanted to get rich quickly,” he told reporters during a briefing at FNB Stadium.
“I do not think R Kelly would have shunned performing for Madiba… but he will not be here. The show will continue with the rest of the line-up.”
DJ Black Coffee, Zahara, Toya Delazy, Mafikizolo, Kurt Darren, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Salif Keita, and Elvis Blue are expected to perform.
The concert will be preceded by a sport bonanza at the stadium, featuring Bafana Bafana and the Springbok rugby team playing in international matches.