Charges laid against Ace Magashule over R150m Free State housing project

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.Picture: MLUNGISI LOUW
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.Picture: MLUNGISI LOUW

30 percent of the R150-million Free State housing project awarded to Chinese company Unital Housing is going to Ace Magashule’s daughter, Thoko Malembe, says Democratic Alliance Free State leader, Patricia Kopane.

Kopane made these allegations on Monday as the party’s leadership in the Free State conducted a tour of Vogelfontein Housing Development in Bethlehem before laying criminal charges against ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule at the Bethlehem Police Station.

The tour was done in order to validate findings made by a DA private investigation that concluded that only about 500 RDP homes of 1600 had been built by Unital Holding, yet more than R70 million had already been paid to the company, explained Kopane.

Accusing Magashule of nepotism and having no regard for the tender processes in the Free State housing project, Kopane said: “Magashule flouted tender procurement processes to ensure that a Chinese company, Unital Holdings, allegedly linked to his daughter, was paid R70 million by the provincial human settlements department to oversee the project.”

When called for comment, Magashule’s phone went straight to voicemail while ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said he was busy with another engagement and could not comment on the matter.

“In the court papers, the municipality clearly states that it was instructed by Ace Magashule to terminate a contract between the municipality and Emendo Incorporation, the initial company awarded the R150 million housing tender before unduly awarding the contract to Unital Holding, a company with ties to Magashule’s own daughter,” said Kopane.

The court papers Kopane was alluding to were from January 2017, when Dihlapeng Municipality lodged a bid in the Bloemfontein High Court to have a land availability agreement between itself and Emendo declared void.

According to Kopane, “the municipality’s justification for its actions was that Ace Magashule [who was then premier] had instructed it to no longer cooperate with Emendo on the project”.

Emendo Incorporation had won the initial housing tender to provide 1600 RDP houses to the Free State before the contract was suddenly terminated by the Dihlapeng municipality before being rewarded to Chinese company Unital Holding.

When members of the municipality were questioned on the matter in the Free State legislature it emerged that Magashule’s daughter would be getting 30% of the proceeds and Unital Holding would be getting 70% of the municipal funds, explained Kopane.

Joining Kopane on the tour were the party’s human settlements spokesperson Solly Malatsi and his deputy, Mbulelo Bara, the party’s provincial legislature leader Dr Roy Jankielsohn and the party’s Free State provincial spokesperson on human settlements, Leona Kleynhans.

After the tour Kopane said, “poor residents in Vogelfontein have been left to live in sub-standard housing while Magashule enjoys political protection from the ANC, which rewarded him with a post as secretary-general.

“The houses are of a poor quality, and some don’t even have basic amenities such as toilets, forcing home owners to use pit toilets to relieve themselves.”

Magashule’s business links and dealings have been thrust into the spotlight recently after the Hawks raided the premier’s office in Bloemfontein earlier in the year in search of documents relating to the infamous dairy farm deal in Vrede that benefited the Gupta family.

A News24 report in January alleged that Magashule’s son was working for the Guptas and had been implicated in “capturing” the Free State’s government expenditure.

Kopane said: “These allegations must be fully investigated and if they prove true, Magashule must be held accountable in terms of the [Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act], which expressly prohibits the use of improper influence to secure a contract for a public body or private organisation.

“The ANC has proven, time and again, that it is incapable of holding corrupt cadres within its ranks to account, and as such, law enforcement agencies are obligated to ensure that victims of corruption get justice from the ‘congress of the corrupt’,” Kopane criticised.

Kopane concluded by say that her party looked forward to a timely conclusion of the investigation into Magashule and his accomplices in the Vogelfontein RDP housing development, who had robbed residents of their right to decent accommodation.

Juniour Khumalo
City Press
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