High court sets dates for Free State asbestos case

Sick former MEC Mlamleli misses out on appearance

Former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule in the Bloemfontein high court in May 5 2023.
Former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule in the Bloemfontein high court in May 5 2023.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/File

The accused in the Free State asbestos tender scandal made a brief appearance in the Bloemfontein high court on Friday. 

During the appearance, the prosecution said they had reached an agreement with the defence for the trial to run from April 15 2025 to June 23 2025. 

The case relates to a R255m asbestos contract that was awarded by the Free State department of human settlements to the Blackhead Consulting — a joint venture to audit, assess and remove asbestos from homes in some of the province’s poorest areas about six years ago.

The defence informed the court that accused Sarah Mlamleli — former Free State MEC — could not appear in court as she was sick.

The prosecution said the extradition process for Moroadi Cholota, Ace Magashule's former assistant who is now in the US, was still unfolding within US courts and that it might take two months for the attorney-general to sign off on the process. The trial will proceed  even if Cholota is not extradited by the April 2025.

Magashule, Edwin Sodi, Blackhead Consulting and Thabane Zulu had previously brought an application before the high court that there was no prima facie evidence that would see them successfully prosecuted. Their application was dismissed by the court.

They have been charged with Nthimotse Mokhesi, Mahlomola Matlakala, Sello Radebe, Kgotso Manyeki, Mlamleli, Nozipho Molikoe, Albertus Venter, Cholota, Margaret-Ann Deidericks and three other companies — 602 Consulting Solutions, Mastertrade 232 and Ori Group.

They face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and the contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, said Free State NPA spokesperson Mojalefa Senokoatsane. 

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