Corruption-accused ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, says he is ready to face his detractors in court. Magashule is among eight people and five companies that face multiple charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering, which relate to the multimillion rand asbestos roofing audit contract.
He is currently out on R200 000 bail.
The R255 million asbestos roof eradication contract was awarded to joint venture, Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill Trading, in October 2014. It was an unsolicited bid. In July 2015, the Auditor-General declared the contract irregular.
Despite the AGs findings, the Free State Human Settlements Department allegedly made further payments amounting to R139 million to the service provider.
In July 2015, the DA approached the High Court in Bloemfontein to stop further payments. However, the application was dismissed as it was not deemed urgent.
In October 2015, the DA then reported the matter to the Public Protector.
In her report, which was released in March, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that the contract was not cost effective and that government did not get value for money.
Mkhwebane also found that the advanced payment of R51 million to the joint venture was unlawful because the contract was irregular.
Whistleblower and Free State DA legislature member, Leona Kleynhans, says the arrests are a step in the right direction.
“Corruption has been going on in the Free State and the ones that have been suffering the most is the poor people. So, we are very relieved that at last we have reached this point because we’ve been weight working on the asbestos matter since 2015 so, for others it’s a relief because a great injustice was done in the Free State and those who are guilty must face the law.”
ANC on support for its SG Ace Magashule:
In July 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the proclamation, which allowed the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the asbestos contract. The state alleges that suspended Free State Human Settlements Head, Nthimotse Mokhesi, former MEC, Olly Mlamleli, and Ace Magashule, had financial interest in the awarding of the contract.
In the indictment, the state alleges that between June 2015 and January 2016, Magashule received unlawful payments of more than R1 million from Diamond Hill Trading director, Phikolomzi “Igo” Mpambani.
Mpambani was shot dead in Sandton in July 2017 in a suspected hit.
A payment of more than R50 000, which was received from Mpambani was allegedly used to settle tuition fees of a daughter of the then acting Free State High Court judge.
NPA Spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, believes they have a watertight case against the accused.
“As much as we are ready to proceed with a trial, we just need to make sure that beside that appearance, we bring in at least three more so that by the time you come back in February we are able to get the High Court date and then you proceed with the trial. At this point there are no glaring issue that will compel us to oppose bail.”
On Friday, Magashule made a brief appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court. The state alleges that Magashule abused his position of authority. He is facing 21 charges of fraud and corruption, alternatively theft and money laundering. The court has ordered Magashule not to contact his former PA, Moroadi Cholota, who has now turned state witness.
Magashule says he is unfazed by his legal woes.
“It is good that there is a charge because when there is a charge we gonna call you that has been making noise to come to the box. Everybody who’s making noise in this region we know they have been receiving money in their accounts. They are still receiving money until today.”
The accused are out on bail ranging between R50 000 and R500 000. They will be back in court in February.
Magashule granted R200 000 bail:
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