ANC secretary-general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule is set to be arrested and charged over his alleged role in the Free State’s R255-million asbestos audit contract.
Scorpio can reveal that a warrant of arrest has been issued for Magashule and that he will face several corruption-related charges in connection with one of the more contentious contracts the Free State provincial government awarded during his time as premier.
A joint venture between businessman Edwin Sodi’s Blackhead Consulting and the late Igo Mpambani’s Diamond Hill Trading 74 clinched the lucrative asbestos audit contract from the Free State’s department of human settlements (FSHS) in 2014. Sodi and other businesspeople linked to the deal have already been arrested and charged, along with several former government officials.
Scorpio understands that Magashule will make his first appearance in the Bloemfontein High Court on Friday and that he has been given an opportunity to voluntarily present himself to the authorities.
We have learnt that he faces multiple counts of alleged transgressions provided for in the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca), among other corruption-related legislation.
It is understood that some of these charges relate to payments made to certain third parties with the proceeds of the contract, allegedly on Magashule’s instruction.
Magashule’s alleged role in the asbestos saga was first exposed in this reporter’s book, Gangster State.
It was revealed that Magashule’s then PA, Moroadi Cholota, had instructed Mpambani to make payments to third parties and that this was seemingly done on behalf of her former boss.
In August 2015, for instance, Mpambani used some of the proceeds of the asbestos contract to settle the student fees for the daughter of then acting high court judge Refiloe Mokoena. Her daughter had been studying at a college in the United States.
Leaked emails and documents showed that the request for the funding was first directed to Magashule, whose PA, Cholota, then forwarded the funding request to Mpambani.
Cholota sent her email to Mpambani only one day after the Blackhead Consulting-Diamond Hill joint venture received one instalment of R36.5-million from the province’s human settlements department. A few days later, Mpambani transferred about R51 000 to the US college.
An earlier email from Cholota to Mpambani also implicates Magashule.
“Following the discussion with Ipeleng Morake [another former staffer in Magashule’s office], Premier requested that you pay full amount of R470 000 and the remaining amount of R30 000 to one of the SRC President[s] in Cuba,” Cholota wrote to Mpambani in May 2015.
The decision to charge Magashule is a breaking development.
Daily Maverick and Scorpio will update our reporting on the issue once we’ve obtained further details. We’ll include comment from Magashule or his legal representatives should they wish to make a statement. DM
Update at 2.55 pm: The Free State Hawks confirmed to Newzroom Afrika that a warrant of arrest had been issued for Magashule.