- Ace Magashule has insisted he is innocent of corruption charges, after appearing in court on Friday.
- The ANC secretary-general says he will be judged by the South African public when he has his day in court.
- He has also welcomed the fact that his former PA has turned state witness, saying anyone who thinks he is corrupt should speak up in court.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has denied he is corrupt, after appearing in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Friday.
The former Free State premier has been charged with 21 counts of fraud, corruption, and money laundering in connection with a R255 million asbestos audit corruption case.
READ | Ace Magashule's former PA in the Free State has turned state witness in his corruption case
In an interview with eNCA, Magashule welcomed the charges brought against him, saying the court case would allow him to prove to the South African public that he is not corrupt.
"Never in my history have I done any corruption. And for many years I've been at the helm of political power and office, and [it can't be that] after so many years of struggle I become corrupt," Magashule said in the interview.
He added that the charges formed part of an agenda to weaken the ANC
"I will expose how some of what I call trumped up charges have been concocted," Magashule said.
READ | Mangaung dispatches: Magashule fires warning shots at Ramaphosa and his supporters
Magashule's former personal assistant has turned state witness, something Magashule says is of no consequence.
"I don't know what a former PA has said and will say. She must say whatever she knows and that will be fine. I want anybody who thinks that I'm corrupt to get this platform now. Let them be called to give evidence and let the South African people judge," he said.
He added that he had called for a sitting of the ANC top six following the issuing of his arrest warrant by the Hawks.
"I was never summoned [to top six meeting]. I'm a simple, humble leader. I'm a principled person. The meeting of the top six was convened by me and the [deputy] secretary-general, Comrade Jesse Duarte. I presented to them, because when you get this type of thing… you must account to your collective leadership," said Magashule.
"We had this meeting and all agreed that a person is innocent until proven otherwise."
Magashule has previously stated he would only step aside if party branches demand it.
Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.