With 50 more charges, Magashule gets August court date

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and his 15 co-accused will face 74 charges of fraud, theft, corruption, money laundering and asbestos contraventions when they appear in the high court in Bloemfontein on August 11. 

A raft of new charges were brought against the “asbestos accused” when they appeared in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on Friday.

The court set the August date for dealing with pre-trial matters after three more accused were added to the charge sheet. They are Albertus Venter, the head of the legal department in the office of the Free State premier; Thabiso Molikoe, the former chief financial officer of the Free State human settlements department; and Thabiso Makepe, the former chief engineer in that department.

As Magashule headed into the court on Friday, flanked by ANC officials, he complained to the media that he was ready to stand trial but the courts were “wasting” his time with countless postponements.

“You guys said we must have our day in court. I’m waiting for the courts and they keep postponing,” he told reporters.


National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said the state had hoped to proceed to trial in May but had to accept that the lawyers of some of the accused would only be available in August.

Asking for a postponement until August 11, prosecutor Johan de Nysschen told the court: “Unfortunately, it is the only date that suits all involved.”

De Nysschen handed each of the 11 accused present in the packed courtroom a copy of the new indictment that adds 50 counts of money-laundering and corruption and three of contravening asbestos regulations, as promulgated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to the charges they face.

When Magashule first appeared in court on November 13 last year, he was indicted on 21 fraud and corruption charges.

Ngwema told reporters that more than 40 witnesses were to testify in perhaps the biggest graft case of the post-apartheid era.

Among them is Venter, Magashule’s former private assistant, whose cooperation is believed to be key for the state as it seeks to jail him for up to 15 years for the R255-million asbestos audit scandal that played out under his watch as premier.

The indictment states that Venter had intimate knowledge of all financial dealings flowing from the premier’s office, and had had a duty to flag concerns about impropriety. 

Venter, Molikoe and Makepe were released on bail of R50 000 each.

“We hope for a speedy trial because justice delayed, you know, it’s something else,” Magashule said to the media, before heading to his car in the barricaded streets outside the court.

Asked whether he would address his supporters, he replied that he did not see any.

When asked whether he would heed mounting pressure from the top ranks of the ANC to step down as secretary general, he responded: “As you know we prove our innocence in a court of law.”

The asbestos scandal goes back to 2014 when a joint venture between Edwin Sodi’s Blackhead Consulting and Igo Mpambani’s Diamond Hill Trading 74 clinched lucrative deals to perform an asbestos audit and replace asbestos roofs in houses in the province. 

Not a single roof was replaced.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Come what may, the UIF will pay

The fund – the main safety net for unemployed workers – will run at an almost R20-billion deficit

‘Terrorised’ family shines a light on traditional leadership for vulnerable...

The ambiguity between traditional and constitutional leadership has been exposed by the violent banishment of an Eastern Cape family

More top stories

Concourt to hear Zondo commission’s application for contempt order against...

The former president has been one week to file answering papers in the application that also seeks a prison sentence imposed on him

Koko maintains he had no idea he was exchanging emails...

In his four turn on the witness stand, the former Eskom CEO maintains he was tricked into sharing company information with a third party

Zuma foundation claims ex-president was prepared to testify, but Zondo...

Zuma’s namesake organisation twists facts and the law – he told Zondo he would answer questions but only in private to the deputy chief justice

Property developers slap Jo’burg environmentalist and conservancy with R197m lawsuit

Century Property Developments and Riversands Developments are suing for income they have allegedly lost because of objections raised
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…