Dakota Legoete, an ANC national executive committee (NEC) member, has urged the party’s structures – from branch level to senior members – to remain calm amid reports that the Hawks has issued a warrant of arrest of secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Magashule said he was neither surprised nor worried about the warrant, but questioned why the media knew about it before he did.
“We have just learnt that there is a warrant of arrest out for the secretary-general and we call on all our structures, all our branches, all our leaders must remain calm. Comrade Ace Magashule is a citizen who is protected by all laws in the country and the Constitution.
He reserves his right to be silent and at the relevant time, once the charges have been laid against him, then he shall comment,” said Legoete.
He was addressing ANC supporters during the party’s campaign trail in Emdeni, Soweto, ahead of Wednesday’s by-elections. His comments came after reports that the elite police unit had issued a warrant for his arrest relating to the R255 million Free State asbestos case.
Top business person Edwin Sodi and several other prominent figures have already been charged.
Captain Lynda Steyn confirmed to City Press’ sister publication, News24, that the national director of public prosecutions had signed the arrest warrant on Tuesday.
Magashule, who was with Legoete, said he had been expecting the warrant for some time. “It has been coming all the time [the warrant]. I am not worried, the struggle continues.”
Legoete said ANC members close to Magashule had cautioned him not to say anything until he had consulted with his lawyers.
“For now we are going to request that the secretary-general can remain quiet. He should first consult with his lawyer,” he said.
While choosing to not engage on the matter, Magashule questioned why the media always knew before him of his imminent arrest.
“They [media] always know before all of us, it means they are well informed, they work with these agencies,” he said, adding that he would be talking to his lawyers “this afternoon”.
Last month the media broke the story about Magashule’s imminent arrest, but the Hawks later denied this.
Magashule’s supporters were up in arms, leading protects at the party headquarters, Luthuli House, in his support.
Meanwhile, the DA has welcomed the latest development.
Its newly elected leader, John Steenhuisen, said: “After years of fighting for justice for the people of the Free State, the DA is delighted to hear of the warrant of arrest that was today issued for ANC secretary-general, Ace Magashule, in connection to the R255 million asbestos audit contract.
“It’s the DA’s member of the Free State provincial legislature, Leona Kleynhans, who has pursued this case relentlessly since 2015, culminating in the laying of charges against Magashule in May this year, which has ensured that Magashule finally is brought to book.”
Steenhuisen described Tuesday’s development as a “win for the DA, but more importantly, this is a win for South Africa”.
He added: “It’s high time that corrupt ANC cadres face the full might of the law and are jailed for their treasonous corruption which continues to steal from the poor and re-enrich the party’s elite.”
The DA leader said the only unfortunate part was that the warrant was as a direct result of his party’s action and not President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had promised but failed to deal decisively with corruption in the ANC.
“The facts of this case have been known to the public, and the ANC, since the publication of the book Gangster State by author and corruption whistle-blower Pieter-Louis Myburgh in March last year.
It is unintelligible that the ANC has, since the book’s publication, done absolutely nothing to act on one of its own in the face of damning corruption allegations,” he said.