EXCLUSIVE: Court battle implicates ANC secretary general Magashule in daughter's R150m RDP contracts

2018-03-28 14:33
Ace Magashule (File)

Ace Magashule (File)

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An ongoing court case contains astonishing claims about how outgoing Free State premier Ace Magashule allegedly meddled in a R150m RDP project that ended up on the books of his daughter's company. 

In our earlier report on Wednesday, News24 revealed that Unital Holdings – a company in which Magashule's daughter is a shareholder – bagged contracts worth R150m to build RDP houses near the town of Bethlehem. 

Sources familiar with the matter provided detailed accounts of how Magashule meddled in the project.

READ EXPOSED: ANC secretary general Magashule and daughter involved in dodgy R150 million RDP housing scam

Further details on the former premier's role in the matter are contained in an ongoing court case between the Dihlabeng municipality and Emendo Incorporated, the company that was initially appointed as a "turnkey developer" for the housing project.

Emendo's directors refused to speak to News24, but the company's court papers shed light on what transpired around the construction of about 1 000 RDP houses in an area outside Bethlehem known as Baken Park or Vogelfontein.

The Dihlabeng municipality in January 2017 lodged a bid in the Bloemfontein High Court to have a land availability agreement with Emendo declared void. 

Troubling developments

The premier's office, under Magashule, has admitted that it provided "legal advice" to Dihlabeng in which it encouraged the municipality to take the matter to court.

"It appeared that the contracts concluded with Emendo Inc were irregular, and as such it should be reviewed and set aside by a competent court," said the premier's office.

According to Emendo's plea in the case, the Dihlabeng municipality "prevented [Emendo] from performing its duties" as the project's turnkey developer at some point after the land availability agreement was signed in August 2013. 

"The [Dihlabeng municipality's] justification for its action was that... the honourable Ace Magashule had instructed it to no longer cooperate with the defendant (Emendo) on the project," reads Emendo's plea. 

In its court papers, the company claims Magashule and the provincial department of human settlements "took over" the Baken Park project and appointed Unital Holdings to build RDP houses "while the land availability and development agreements [between Dihlabeng and Emendo] were in place and not repudiated or cancelled".

Emendo was "troubled by these developments", according to the court papers, and decided to reach out to Magashule. 

Political mandate

The former premier dismissed the Emendo as "not interested in discussing the matter", the company claims. 

Emendo's role as a turnkey developer would have included sourcing funding from government entities to build houses and other amenities and infrastructure, including roads. 

According to the court papers, Emendo appointed a company called Dam Civils to construct tarred roads on the tract of land. 

"Dam Civils CC undertook roads preparation construction but were stopped by [Dihlabeng's] municipal manager who cited that political pressure was put to bear on him not to honour any agreement with the defendant," claims Emendo.

"The defendant responded that it was using its own funds.... The plaintiff's municipal manager indicated that the political mandate given to him was that there should be no cooperation with the defendant (Emendo) hence the plans were not approved," read the court papers.

The municipality says it can't fully respond to queries, seeing that the matter is before a court. 

Allegations rejected

When News24 visited Baken Park in January, the area still had no tarred roads. 

In its court papers, Emendo claims it also appealed to Nthimotse Tim Mokhesi, the provincial department of human settlements' HOD, but to no avail. 

Mokhesi apparently told Emendo that the provincial government had decided to take over the project from the Dihlabeng municipality. 

"Mr Mokhesi further informed the defendant to walk away from the project as the premier of the province has instructed him not to work with the defendant on this project. In his words, political pressure had been put on him not to cooperate with the defendant," according to the court papers.

Magashule and the department of human settlements said they couldn't respond to queries related to the ongoing court case.

They did, however, "reject the allegation that Emendo was instructed to walk away from the project".

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Read more on:    ace maga­shule  |  bloemfontein  |  service delivery  |  corruption  |  judiciary

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