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

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  • ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has arrived at court for his fraud and corruption trial.
  • Three more senior government officials are expected to be added to the list of accused.
  • Magashule's supporters were gathering in the streets of Bloemfontein ahead of his appearance.

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 eleventh of August."

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

When asked about moves in the ANC which could impact him due to the charges he faces, Magashule said there was the "legal part and the political part let's leave it there".

"I think the ANC is dealing with the political part but I am happy with the legal part, and I hope this matter will [be finalised] very soon."

Magashule and his co-accused face charges of fraud, corruption and money-laundering in connection with a R255 million asbestos eradication deal, dating from the time when Magashule was Free State premier seven years ago.

ace magashule
ANC Secretary General, Ace Magashule appears at Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court with his co-accused.

The court also heard that one of the directors of Blackhead Trading, one of the five companies accused in the case, had been murdered and would have to be replaced with another representative.

Three new accused were added to the charge sheet on Friday and appeared in court for a bail hearing, together with the other accused.

The three, Nozipho Belina Molikoe, Thabiso Makepe and Albertus Venter, all senior government officials, were released on R50 000 bail each. 

Venter served as legal adviser in Magashule's office when he was Free State premier and when many of the deals in question took place.

Only one of the accused, Nthimotse Mokhesi, was not in court on Friday morning, but his representative handed in a medical certificate, saying that Mokhesi underwent a medical procedure on Tuesday.

READ| State Capture Inquiry: Spotlight falls on Free State R1 billion housing project

Mokhesi, Free State human settlements head, testified before the state capture inquiry in September last year and admitted that he could have done more to probe the asbestos deal.

Magashule was elusive when asked whether he would address supporters, who had been bussed into Bloemfontein and who had been gathering in their hundreds, dressed in ANC colours and military-style camouflage. 

It appeared that the crowds were in contravention of Covid-19 lockdown regulations, which prohibit gatherings bigger than 50 people. 

ace magashule
ANC Secretary General, Ace Magashule's supporters congregated at Hertzog Square after Magashule's court appearance at the Bloemfontein Magistrate court.

Some were also seen without masks. 

Earlier Magashule greeted journalists as he entered the court precinct and complained that "you guys said we must have our day in court, we are waiting on the court, they keep postponing."

READ | Charges against Magashule to increase when he appears in court again

Magashule told reporters ahead of the case that, "whatever charges [the NPA wants to add], they are fine."

"Let the NPA do whatever they want to do, I'm ready for anything." 

LIVE | Ace Magashule, corruption co-accused in Free State asbestos case back in court

Asked whether he had spoken to President Cyril Ramaphosa over what his supporters are alleging is a political prosecution against him, he said: "Why should I speak to the president about a case?"

Court proceedings were expected to start before 09:00 and media access to the court was limited to five broadcasters.

Magashule's supporters, wearing yellow ANC T-shirts and some dressed in militant camouflage, arrived by bus overnight and were gathering in the Kings Park Rose Garden where they were singing songs in support of Magashule.

One carried what appeared to be a handgun.

There was a heavy police presence in front of the court, with razor wire rolled out to control the crowds expected to gather there later. 

Police choppers also flew overhead. 

Magashule's detractors in the Free State said they would not gather ahead of his court appearance as they wanted to adhere to Covid-19 lockdown protocols.

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