BLOEMFONTEIN: The charges relate to the alleged irregular awarding of the more than R250 million Free State asbestos roofing audit contract.
The African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General, Mr Ace Magashule and seven others are expected to appear in the Bloemfontien Magistrate Court for corruption and fraud charges, his supporters claim are politically motivated.
Ahead of his court appearance, Mr Magashule’s supporters are expected to gather outside the court to support him. Five companies are also expected to be named during the court proceeding.
They are facing various charges, including fraud and corruption. The charges relate to the alleged irregular awarding of the more than R250 million Free State asbestos roofing audit contract.
Mr Magashule’s problems are seemingly increasing as a result of former Free State member of the executive, and top ANC leader, Mr Mxolisi Dukwana will be leading a group of supporters who are also calling for him to be removed from the ANC top position.
Mr Dukwana believes that Mr Magashule should lead by example and vacate his position of power as per an ANC resolution that members, who are formally charged in a court of law, must step aside from their positions in the organisation.
Mr Dukwana was fired by Mr Magashule in February 2012 following what the South African Broadcasting Corporation called ‘a political fallout‘.
Mr Dukwana has often claimed that he was removed from his position for his tough stance on corruption, a claim rejected by many of Mr Magashule’s supporters.
“In observation, this case is important to open the lid over the strong allegations of rampant corruption that plagued our province since 2009 when Elias Magashule assumed the Premiership,” Mr Dukwana said.
“This appearance is in our view important to uphold the legal principle of Audi Alteram pattern. After years of allegations of fraud and corruption, we must hear the other side of the story,” he added.
Further charges are expected to be added Mr Magashule’s charge sheet, the National Prosecuting Authority has hinted.
The state alleges that between June 2015 and January 2016, Magashule either received or benefited from unlawful payments of more than R1 million from the late Diamond Hill Trading director, Mr Phikolomzi “Igo” Mpambani.
NPA spokesperson, Mr Sipho Ngwema, said they are ready to take the matter to the high court.
“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. But also we wanted to add more accused persons on the indictment,” Mr Ngwema said.
“So, this is what is likely to happen when the matter resumes and we are ready to proceed to trial. So, we think that we are going to move with speed to make sure that the matter goes to the high court and a trial takes place as soon as possible,” Mr Ngwema added.
Meanwhile, a group of individuals that was formed by sympathizers of the former party leader, Mr Jacob Zuma – who is also set to appear in court on Tuesday, 23rd February, on fraud, corruption and racketeering charges – have vowed to rally behind the underpressure secretary-general.
The group known as Radical Economic Transformation forces have, also, questioned the independence of the country’s judiciary. It has pledged its support for Mr Magashule ahead of his court appearance in Bloemfontein, Free State on Friday on charges of corruption.
RET forces claim that charges against Mr Magashule are politically-motivated. The group has been joined by the civil movements, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco), and the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) which has also come out in support of Mr Magashule.
The group leader, Mr Malefu Mofokeng has accused judges of having underhand tactics, according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
“Comrade Ace’s charges have nothing to do with law per se but are politically motivated charges,” he said.
“The independence of the judiciary is compromised. Some legal practitioners are no longer committed to the rule of law but use the rule of law to advance narrow political interest for those who are anti-economic transformation,” he added.
The court date is set for Friday, 19th February 2021 before midday.