Corruption, fraud, alternatively theft and more seriously, money laundering are among the 21 charges that the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) are pursuing against ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
The decisive Magashule handed himself over to the Hawks and later appeared before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday where the charges were read out.
He was granted R200 000 bail.
Magashule faces multiple charges of corruption, fraud, theft and money laundering in relation to his alleged involvement in the R255 million asbestos eradication project in Free State.
The matter was postponed to February 19 next year.
It’s understood that the state seeks to add at least three more accused persons to the charge sheet to join Magashule and the rest of the seven accused.
While Magashule appeared alone on Friday, he will be joined in the dock by co-accused Edwin Sodi, Nthimotse Mokhesi, Mahlomola John Matlakala, Sello Joseph Radebe, Abel Kgotso Manyeki, Thabane Wiseman Zulu and Sarah Matawana Mlamleli.
As part of his bail conditions, the former Free State premier was ordered to surrender his passport and to inform the investigating team if he wishes to travel abroad.
He was also ordered not to be in contact with any witnesses, particularly his former secretary Moroadi Cholota.
In this regard, he may not, directly or through third parties, make any contact with her.
The 21 charges relate primarily to a multimillion rand asbestos contract awarded in 2014 as a joint venture between Sodi’s Blackhead Consulting and the late Igo Mpambani’s Diamond Hill Trading 71 who won the lucrative asbestos contract.
The contract was issued by the Free State’s department of human settlements and the companies issued with the tender were then charged with identifying and replacing asbestos roofs in houses in the province.
According to the state’s indictment, various payments were made by the department of human settlement to Diamond Hill Trading 71-Blackhead JV for which Phikolomzi Mpambani and Sodi were the account holders.
It is alleged that in August 2015, Magashule corruptly accepted gratification of R53 550, paid on his request towards the tuition fees of the daughter of a then acting judge from Mpambani.
According to the indictment, Magashule in June 2015 further accepted a payment of R470 000, “paid on his request to M-TAG Systems for the acquisition of 200 electronic tablets from Mpambani”.
“Furthermore, it is alleged that in June 2015 Magashule accepted a payment of R30 000, paid on his request to SWC Nkate from Mpambani. Between November 2015 and January 2016, a payment of R250 000, on his request, was made by Mpambani to Astra Travel towards travel expenses of a delegation to Cuba.”
The ANC secretary-general is further accused of “failing to report corrupt transactions in contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004,” the NPA contends.
The NPA initially asked for bail be set at R250 000 because of the seriousness of the charges.
His lawyer, Advocate Lawrence Hodes, argued that Magashule was unable to afford any amount higher than R20 000.