Bernadette Wicks
Senior court reporter
2 minute read
13 Nov 2020
1:14 pm

Ace Magashule’s former personal assistant turns state witness

Bernadette Wicks

State advocate Johan De Nysschen asked that Moroadi Cholota not be contacted by Magashule or anyone on his behalf.

Supporters of the ANC's secretary-general Ace Magashule carry a huge cardboard cut-out of him when he appeared in the dock for his first court appearance on corruption charges in Bloemfontein. Picture: EPA-EFE/Conrad Bornman

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota, has turned state witness in the case against him.

This emerged in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday morning, when Magashule made his first appearance in connection with a controversial a R255 million contract awarded to a joint venture between Blackhead Consulting and a company registered as Diamond Hill Trading 71 in 2014, to identify and eradicate asbestos roofing on low-cost houses across the Free State. 

ALSO READ: Ace Magashule granted R200k bail

Magashule, who was the province’s premier at the time when the asbestos contract was awarded, stands charged with multiple counts of fraud, corruption and money laundering. He is one of several high-ranking government officials and businessmen said to have scored big from the award of the contract, despite little to no work ever actually having been done.

He was on Friday granted bail of R200,000 and his case postponed to next February.

But during proceedings, state advocate Johan De Nysschen revealed that Cholota had turned state witness.

“I wish to place it very clearly on record this woman is now a state witness,” he told the court.

“Therefore I am asking the court to make a specific condition that neither the accused nor anyone acting on behalf of the accused make any contact with this person.”

Co-accused

Cholota’s name was mentioned at the State Capture Commission of Inquiry during the testimony of the former Free State economic development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana – who also fingered Magashule in the asbestos scandal at the commission.

Magistrate Amos Moos did ultimately make this a condition of Magashule’s bail conditions.

In late September, the Hawks swooped on seven suspects – including Blackhead director Edwin Sodi, the Free State’s former Human Settlements MEC, Olly Mlamleli, along with his one-time head of department, Nthimotse Mokhesi, former national Human Settlements Department director general Thabane Wiseman Zulu, and a supply chain manager with the Free State human settlements department, John Matlakala.

Also arrested in the cross-province operation – spanning Gauteng, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal – were businessmen Sello Joseph Radebe and Kgotso Abel Manyike .

They made their first appearance in court in early October and were released on bail of varying amounts between R50,000 and R500,000.

Magashule will join them in the dock when he next appears in court on 19 February 2021.

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