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AS IT HAPPENED | 'I've done nothing wrong' - Magashule as asbestos corruption case is transferred, postponed

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ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule leaves the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court after the case against him and his co-accused was transferred to the High Court on 19 February 2021.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule leaves the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court after the case against him and his co-accused was transferred to the High Court on 19 February 2021.
PHOTO: Kayleen Morgan/News24
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19 February 12:54

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, surrounded by supporters, drives off following his appearance at the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on 19 February 2021.

(PHOTO: Kayleen Morgan/News24)

<p>ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, surrounded by supporters, drives off following his appearance at the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on 19 February 2021.</p><p><em>(PHOTO: Kayleen Morgan/News24)</em></p>

19 February 12:21

UPDATE | 'I've done nothing wrong, I'll prove in court' - Magashule trial moved to High Court

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and his 10 co-accused are expected to have their day in court on 11 August in the Free State High Court, after the case against them was postponed on Friday.

Minutes after their brief appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Friday morning, Magashule told journalists on the steps outside the court: "We hope for a speedy trial, because justice delayed is, you know... something else, so we are looking forward to the 11th of August."

He added: "Of course, I've done nothing wrong. I'll prove in court."

READ MORE

19 February 12:16

It has now been confirmed that Magashule won't be addressing the media either.

19 February 11:56

ICYMI - WATCH

19 February 11:10

ICYMI - WATCH

19 February 11:08

Former ANC youth league deputy president and former councillor Andile Lungisa was shown on camera, addressing the crowd who came out in support of Magashule. Lungisa has previously come to the defence of Magashule and hit back at NEC members who called for Magashule to step aside.

19 February 10:23

Ngwema: We have more than 40 state witnesses, and if certain things become common cause, we might not have to ask all of them to come. We are happy with the work done by the various agencies, and we wanted the trial to continue ASAP, in May, but hopefully we'll be able to start with the trial in earnest in August. The issue is that the legal representatives for some of the accused are not available in August, so it was only fair to agree to have this in August.

Money laundering, corruption in the main, and fraud are among the charges Ace Magashule is facing, Ngwema says.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 10:21

NPA's Sipho Ngwema is asked about preparedness for case. "We would love to have proceeded with the trial in May, but the accused are only available in August, but we are ready," he says.

Ngwema says the prosecuting authority and the Hawks got the case ready for trial in two years, and repeats they would have wanted to proceed sooner.

Ngwema is asked about the warrant of arrest for Accused No 1, Nthimotse Mokhesi. "It's a normal procedure. If an accused couldn't make it to court, a warrant is issued. Will only be executed if necessary, but a medical certificate has been submitted," he says.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 10:19

Journalists ask Magashule if he's going to address his supporters now, "the ones that are contravening Covid-19 regulations".

Magashule: "I don't see any supporters here. I'm going to walk to my car now," and he gestures to his right.

Journalists keep pressuring him on whether he will address his supporters in contravention to Covid-19 regulations, but he's elusive.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 10:09

Some ANC leaders came to Bloemfontein to support Magashule, including ANC Women's League leader Bathabile Dlamini, former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina, and MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 10:08

WATCH

19 February 10:06

A warrant of arrest has been issued for Nthimotse Mokhesi due to issues with his medical certificate. His bail money reverts to the state.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 10:05

The presiding judge removes his mask so that he can be heard clearly. He says the asbestos matter has been transferred to the Free State High Court for pre-trial proceedings on 11 August at 08.30.

Accused No 1's bail has been cancelled (he handed up a medical certificate). Accused numbers 2, 3, 7, 9 11, 12, 13 bail is extended. Accused numbers 14, 15, 16 bail is R50 000.

"You are all to appear at the Free State High Court," the judge concludes.

Proceedings adjourned.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 09:59

Prosecutor asks for a postponement until 11 August. "Unfortunately, it's the only date that suits all involved".

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 09:58

The judge now addresses the legal representatives of all the accused in the matter, including that of Edwin Sodi and Ace Magashule.

19 February 09:55

Prosecutor says the indictments were served in this unusual way for the sake of speeding up the case, otherwise it would have had to be postponed again.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 09:52

One of the accused (Nthimotse Mokhesi) isn't in court to receive the indictment as he had an operation on Tuesday, and his document is handed to his legal representative who says he has power of attorney to receive the document.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 09:50

State prosecutor recommends that the case be transferred to the High Court. He hands a stack of documents to a security officer to hand a copy of the indictment to each of the accused in court.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 09:48

The prosecutor says the Diamond Trading director who was supposed to appear on behalf of the company was murdered and was replaced by another director to appear in court on behalf of the company going forward.

"These individuals are not charged as accused, they are merely representing the entities that are indeed charged with several counts, including fraud, money laundering, but I would from the state's side suggest that they get legal representation. I believe the one side has legal representation, but it is suggested that they be represented in the High Court."

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 09:46

The judge grants R50 000 bail to each of the three senior government officials arrested yesterday (Nozipho Belina Molikoe, Thabiso Makepe and Albertus Venter) and appearing in court today for the first time.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 09:45

The presiding judge asks what Nozipho Belina Molikoe's monthly salary is. She states R19 000. It appears that the state has recommended that her bail be set at R50 000, but the presiding judge says he needs to know her salary to determine that.

Thabiso Makepe asked that his bail be set at R50 000 "but if it can be lower, that would be very much appreciated", he tells the presiding judge.

It appears that the state has also recommended R50 000 bail for Albertus Venter.

The prosecutor said the state is not opposed to the three new accused being released on bail.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 09:36

The court is now hearing the bail applications of the three new accused added to the charge sheet today. They are former senior government officials Nozipho Belina Molikoe, Thabiso Makepe and Albertus Venter.

 - Carien du Plessis

19 February 09:28

The presiding judge has entered the courtroom, and proceedings are now under way.

He expresses his concern about the number of people in the room, and the lack of social distancing, particularly in the public gallery.

19 February 09:17

Magashule appears to be inside the courtroom, but not yet seated, still consulting with those around him.

Co-accused Edwin Sodi is also present.

19 February 08:52

FOR SUBSCRIBERS

Charges against Magashule to increase when he appears in court again

 - ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule is back in court on Friday to face more than 21 charges of corruption and fraud.

 - He will be joined by several co-accused, including three senior government officials who were arrested on Thursday.

 - Supporters of Magashule, as well as former president Jacob Zuma, are likely to use this appearance to galvanise support.

READ FULL STORY

19 February 08:52

3 senior government officials arrested over R255m asbestos project

 - The Hawks have arrested three more people in connection with the R255 million asbestos audit corruption case.

 - Captain Christopher Singo said the government officials were arrested on Thursday.

 - The allegations relate to the investigation into a contract to audit which houses in the Free State needed asbestos removed.

READ MORE

19 February 08:52

FOR SUBSCRIBERS

Magashule must 'make things easy for ANC and step aside' - NEC meeting debates Ace's fate

"We humbly request that the ANC secretary-general make things easy for the ANC and step aside."

This was the plea heard in an ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Saturday, where the fate of party secretary-general Ace Magashule was hanging in balance.

News24 was reliably informed that at least three NEC members have called for Magashule to go, while a host of others have thrown their weight behind guidelines that would make it untenable for him to remain in his position.

Former intelligence minister Dipou Letsatsi-Duba is said to have been the most direct, saying the ANC could not ignore its integrity commission report of December that instructed Magashule to step aside, given that he was facing 21 charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.

READ FULL STORY
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