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ASBESTOS TRIAL

Ace Magashule’s graft trial shifted to 2024, but in the meantime he’s ‘thinking about’ starting a political party

Ace Magashule’s graft trial shifted to 2024, but in the meantime he’s ‘thinking about’ starting a political party
Ace Magashule and his co-accused in the asbestos tender case have appeared in the Bloemfontein High Court, where the case was postponed until April 2024. (Photo: Supplied)

Former Free State premier and ex-ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule appeared in court on Friday on fraud charges. Outside court, he revealed that he had been approached to start a political party, but was still thinking about it.

The case involving a multimillion-rand asbestos tender against former Free State premier and ex-ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and 18 co-accused – including former Mangaung mayor and former Free State human settlements MEC Olly Mlamleli – has been postponed to 2024 in the Bloemfontein High Court.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ace Magashule asbestos corruption trial pushed back to January 2023

Advocate Johan de Nysschen, for the State, said defence counsel for all accused but one had agreed that the trial preliminary be set down between 15 April 2024 and 23 June 2024. One of the accused, Mahlomola John Matlakala – a government official – said he still needed to secure a legal representative since the one on record for him has been suspended as a legal practitioner. 

Ace Magashule in the Bloemfontein High Court. (Photo: Supplied)

Matlakala said he has financial challenges and cannot apply for legal aid because he does not fall in the required financial bracket to be eligible. He therefore needed time to appoint a legal counsel. He has until 19 May 2023 to do so.  

Allegations at the centre of the case

The State alleges that fraud to the value of R255-million was committed in 2014 when the Free State human settlements department appointed service providers to assess and replace asbestos roofs of houses in the province, when they allegedly did not have the capacity to do so. 

The other accused are Nthimotse Mokhesi, Sello Joseph Radebe, Kgotso Abel Manyike, Thabane Zulu and Sarah Matawana Mlamleli. Edwin Sodi, a businessman from Johannesburg and owner of Blackhead Consulting, scored the contract. 

Ace Magashule and his co-accused in the Bloemfontein High Court. (Photo: Supplied)

Alongside five companies they face charges including fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of asbestos regulations. The companies are: Blackhead Consulting, Diamond Hill Trading 71 (Pty) Ltd, 605 Consulting Solutions (Pty) Ltd, Mastertrade 232 (Pty) Ltd and Ori Group (Pty) Ltd. 

All the accused have been out on bail ranging from R50,000 to R500,000 since their appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrates’ Court in November 2020.

The latest on Magashule’s former PA 

De Nysschen said Magashule’s former PA, Moroadi Cholota, initially agreed to return to South Africa from the US of her own will, as a witness in the trial. This undertaking had been placed on record in court before, but it now seemed the agreement “has gone out of the window”. 

Her legal counsel said there was indeed an undertaking from her, but she was then arrested by Homeland Security in connection with her immigration status. 

Ace Magashule in court. (Photo: Supplied)

“We are not involved with immigration processes and we understand that the case has been withdrawn since,” De Nysschen said. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Supreme Court slaps down Ace Magashule’s appeal against suspension

Free State asbestos corruption case: Ace Magashule claims delays ‘deliberate’ ahead of ANC’s elective conference

The trial, however, would continue with or without her.

Magashule and Sodi lost a Supreme Court challenge against their prosecution in the asbestos case, paving the way for the trial to start. 

Magashule on starting a new political party 

Magashule spoke to the media outside court – where some of his supporters gathered – reiterating that this is a political trial. He also responded to reports that he is in the process of starting a new political party. He said he had been approached – but would not say by whom – about the possibility and that he is “still thinking about it”. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Karen G says:

    Please don’t Ace! We don’t need anymore political parties – we just need a few, who are really committed to serving the people as opposed to serving themselves. It seems that in South Africa, if you have no skills at all apart from graft, start a political party!!!

  • Mpumi Bikitsha says:

    Political parties used to be a sure path to the trough, not any more Ace. Polish up your CV and look for a proper job broer. Enough is enough!

  • Johan Buys says:

    great

    If one more crooked corrupt clown cadre communist decides to start another new party the 2024 election might be interesting.

  • Gerrie Pretorius says:

    Yes please elias, start your new party. Hopefully you can draw a couple of thousand votes from the anc. Which is exactly what SA needs, a weak anc.

  • Alan Salmon says:

    Delayed for an entire year this time – our legal system is a failure

  • Dragon Slayer says:

    He probably has banked enough tax-payers money and enough political favours from the ANC mafia to actually buy a seat or two! He also has the backing of Zuma and his Real Economic Tragedy (RET) band of awaiting trial alliance.

  • Ashley Stone says:

    Sounds great! However please disclose upfront, to your potential supporters, full disclosure of your deeds especially your skill at organizing roof inspections for asbestos reasons (don’t want your future voters poisoned) without actually inspecting any of them and then using tax payers funds to fund (the inspection) and then non-replacement thereof. This money skill of “diverted for other purposes” is a skill and personally I would have this as the “call to vote for me” mantra during my campaign-good luck 2024! Ace in the hole as they say. P.S. I have a friend who can “organize” a Pierneef painting for your new party HQ.

  • David Crossley says:

    What a pity this has been postponed again. Justice delayed is justice denied and Ace needs to answer to questionable financial dealings.

  • Libby De Villiers says:

    Are his looted assets frozen until the next court date? And his passport? Or is buying time to do the laundry and then run to Dubai?
    With respect milords, get the show on the road now. The tax payers want answers and pay your salaries after all.

  • Benevolence ZA says:

    I am happy that with Electoral Amendments Act the lowest signature requirement is around 10k from up frim 1k. This will go a long a way in preventing people thinking starting a political party is one of the roads to fame and riches. Next we need a law that excludes any party with less than 2% of the vote from being allocated a seat either in Council or legislature.

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