Ace Magashule and co-accused's asbestos trial set for April 2024
Former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule will have his day in court in April 2024, when the R255m asbestos corruption case goes to trial.
Magashule is accused of involvement in a corrupt tender scheme that allegedly saw multiple high-ranking Free State government officials receiving kickbacks from money meant to fund the removal of harmful asbestos from the homes of the province's poorest residents.
Instead of the affected houses being safely rid of the material at a reasonable price, the state says Magashule and businessman Edwin Sodi, of Blackhead Consulting, embarked on a "rent-seeking" scheme that ultimately resulted in only R21m in work being done.
Magashule and his co-accused face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
The matter has been set down for April 15 to June 23 next year.
It is the state's case that Magashule's alleged cut from the scheme came in the form of school fees for Gupta ally Refiloe Mokoena's daughter, electronic tablets and R250,000 for the travel expenses for a delegation to Cuba.
The other accused in the case are former director-general of the national department of housing Thabane Zulu, Nthimotse Mokhesi, Mahlomola Matlakala, Sello Radebe, Abel Kgotso Manyeki, Olly Mlamleli, Nozipho Molikoe, Albertus Venter, Cholota and Margaret-Ann Diedericks.
In addition to Blackhead Consulting, three other companies — 602 Consulting Solutions, Mastertrade 232 and Ori Group — are accused.
Speaking after his court appearance on Friday, Magasuhle maintained his innocence and said he was ready to face the music.
“I don't know what my charge is because there is no witness against me. I wish even those who went to the state capture [commission] can come and be witnesses here because South Africans will now know the truth. I think that the truth and lies will be exposed and justice will prevail. That's how confident I am,” he said.
“I have never taken a cent from the taxpayers' money.”
Asked about his involvement in the trip to Cuba, Magashule said: “All my trips as the premier were paid by the government. Let’s hear what the court says. This is a simple political trial and I will prove to you during the trial that indeed, even the ANC believes it was political.”
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