- Ace Magashule's former PA is now a suspect in the R255 million Free State asbestos corruption case he faces.
- She was supposed to be a State witness but the prosecutor told the court that she allegedly refused to assist.
- A warrant of arrest has been signed and the State is in the process of getting her back to South Africa to stand trial.
The so-called star witness in the R255 million Free State asbestos corruption case of suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has become a suspect.
Magashule, former Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli, former human settlements head of department Nthimotse Mokhesi, controversial businessman Edwin Sodi and other co-accused appeared in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
They have been charged with fraud, corruption, theft and money laundering, among other charges, related to a R255 million contract for the assessment and removal of asbestos from roofs and/or housing.
One of the issues that arose during their earlier court appearances was whether Magashule's former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota, was a witness for the State because he wanted to secure her as a defence witness.
State advocate Johan de Nysschen previously told the court she was a State witness. He said the State was the dominus litis (master of the case) and therefore had first entry to a witness.
However, on Wednesday, he said that the situation changed recently:
He explained that detectives had gone to the US to get a statement from Cholota and that she allegedly refused to assist.
"She is not keen to be a witness of the State anymore," he added.De Nysschen dropped another bombshell when he told the court that Cholota had now become a suspect in the matter.
He said a warrant of arrest has been signed and that they are in the process of getting her back to South Africa where she will be added to the matter as an accused.
The court said it would give the State time to have Cholota extradited, but added that she may be a cooperative accused and return to South Africa to stand trial voluntarily.
The matter was postponed to 21 February 2022.
It is alleged that in 2014, two companies were appointed as service providers to the Department of Human Settlements in the Free State. One was Gauteng-based Blackhead Consulting.
The companies then allegedly subcontracted two other companies, one of which did the work for R21 million.
The rest of the money was allegedly pocketed by the accused. Even though millions was spent on the project, the asbestos was not removed, according to testimony at the Zondo Commission.
According to the indictment, Magashule's alleged take of the R255 million tender came in the form of school tuition for a daughter, electronic tablets and R250 000 for the travel expenses of a delegation to Cuba.
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