Tuition fees, electronic tablets, trip to Cuba: Ace’s asbestos alleged 'bonsella'

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  • ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule made his first appearance in court on charges relating to a R255 million asbestos audit corruption case.
  • Magashule has been charged with eight counts of fraud, five counts of corruption, and eight counts of money laundering. 
  • It is alleged that he accepted a gratification of R250 000 for travel expenses of a delegation to Cuba. 

ANC Secretary general Ace Magashule’s alleged take of the R255 million asbestos audit tender came in the form of school tuition for a daughter, electronic tablets, and R250 000 for travel expenses of a delegation to Cuba, according the State.

Magashule appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday morning where it was revealed that he has been charged with 21 counts of fraud, corruption, and money laundering.

According to a scathing indictment, Magashule has been charged with:

  • Eight counts of fraud;
  • five charges of corruption; and
  • eight counts of money laundering.

The indictment alleges that Magashule accepted a gratification of R53 550 in 2015, paid, on his request, towards the tuition fees of the daughter of former Free State acting Judge Refiloe Mokoena.

Around June 2015, Magashule allegedly accepted another gratification in the amount of R470 000, paid on his request to M–TAG Systems for the acquisition of 200 Electronic tablets.

READ | WANTED! Hawks secure arrest warrant for Ace Magashule in R255m asbestos corruption probe

During the same month, he allegedly accepted another gratification of R30 000, paid on his request, to SWC Nkate.

Between November 2015 and January 2016, Magashule allegedly accepted a further R250 000 which was paid to Astra travel towards the travel expenses of a delegation to Cuba.

All these payments were made by Ignatius "Igo" Mpambani, a businessman whose company, Diamond Hill was one of the main beneficiaries of a controversial contract to "audit" and "assess" houses with asbestos roofs in the Free State.

Mpambani was murdered in 2018, it what was a suspected hit in Sandton, Gauteng, News24 previously reported.

The contract was awarded to Blackhead Consulting, which the department of Human Settlements made the payments to. One of Magashule’s co-accused, businessman Edwin Sodi is the director of Blackhead Consulting.

According to the indictment, the Auditor-General submitted a report to the Free State Legislature on the Department of Human Settlements which stated that the contract had been irregularly procured.

Despite the report and a High Court application by the DA, further amounts of R 139 000 000 were paid out for the tender.

EXPLAINER | Ace Magashule warrant: What you need to know about the Free State asbestos deal

The indictment further charges that Magashule did not report the alleged corrupt activities as he was legally obliged to do as the Free State Premier, and that he had a financial interest in the awarding of the tender and the subsequent payments.

While money for the audit and removal of the asbestos was allegedly paid to sub-contracted companies, the asbestos had still not been removed, according to testimony at the state capture commission of inquiry.

Most of the money was pocketed by the accused, according to the State.

The other accused in the matter include former Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli, former human settlements head of department Nthimotse Mokhesi who awarded the contract.

Magashule, who will join his seven other co-accused in the dock in February 2021, was released on bail of R200 000 on Friday.

According to a statement by the National Prosecuting Authority, the matter is trial ready and will be transferred to the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein at the next appearance in February, and that the postponement was necessary as more accused are expected to be added to the charge sheet.

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