Ace Magashule back in court: More charges a possibility

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture: EPA-EFE/Conrad Bornman

Magashule and his co-accused are set to appear again at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Ace Magashule might face more charges on Friday for his alleged role in the multi-million-rand asbestos audit contract scandal in Free State.

According to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Sipho Ngwema, prosecuting authority has prepared itself to move the case to High Court for trial.

“When the case adjourned last time, we did indicate that there will be some changes on the indictment. We indicated that we wanted to add more charges with regard to the last accused, which is Mr Magashule.

“We wanted to add more accused persons on the indictment – so, this is what is likely to happen when the matter resumes. We are ready to proceed to trial, so we think we are going to move with speed, so the matter goes to the high court and a trial takes place as soon as possible,” Ngwema told Jacaranda FM.

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Magashule is currently out on R200,000 bail and faces 21 charges of fraud and corruption related to an asbestos removal tender during his tenure as the premier of the Free State.

The former Free State premier and his co-accused are set to appear again at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday, 19 February.

More arrests were made in the asbestos matter as the Hawks nabbed three senior government officials in Bloemfontein on Thursday morning.

“Three senior government officials were arrested by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation Team in the early hours of today in Bloemfontein in relation to the asbestos investigation facing charges of corruption.

“The allegations relate to a contract that was awarded through a procurement process that was done in a fraudulent and corrupt manner. The contract was meant to identify and remove asbestos roofs in the Free State province.

“During that period the department incurred unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure worth over R255 million,” Hawks spokesperson, Katlego Mogale said in a statement.

READ MORE: Cholota’s testimony could prove crucial to Magashule case – experts

Mogale added that suspects would join Magashule and the rest of the accused in court on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Dennis Bloem said the party have called for the arrest Magashule and former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane over the controversial Estina Dairy project.

Bloem said the party also called for National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi to prosecute the two.

He further said the community of Vrede and the people of the Free State wouldn’t rest until Magashule and Zwane were charged in connection with the alleged corruption that mired the project.

Additional reporting from Eric Naki

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