The Bloemfontein High Court has postponed the R255 million Free State asbestos contract case, involving suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, to October.
The matter was before the High Court in the Free State for a pre-trial on Wednesday morning.
Magashule, together with his 15 co-accused – which includes five companies – are expected to be back in the High Court on 19 October.
“All the accused are on bail except for the juristic persons which is accused 4,5,6 and 10. All the accused are then warned to be in this court again at nine o’clock in the morning,” the judge said.
Alongside Magashule, businessman Edwin Sodi, Free State human settlements department head Nthimotse Mokhesi, businessman Sello Radebe, former director-general of the national Department of Human Settlements Thabane Zulu, former provincial human settlements MEC Sarah “Olly” Mlamleli, Free State human settlements supply chain manager director Mahlamola Matlakela and businessman Abel Manyeki all face a string of charges relating to the 2014 provincial asbestos audit, which was aimed at the identifying and removal of asbestos roofing from homes in the province.
They are facing more than 70 charges which included corruption, fraud, money laundering in contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, Prevention of Organised Crime Act, as well as contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
The other accused also include Nozipho Belina Molikoe, Thabiso Makepe and Albertus Venter.
Molikoe was the chief financial officer of the provincial human settlements department at the time, while Makepe was chief engineer of the department, and Venter is the head of the legal department in the office of the Free State premier.
The suspects are out on bail of R50,000 to R500,000.
A joint venture between Sodi’s Blackhead Consulting and the late Igo Mpambani’s Diamond Hill Trading74 was paid R225 million to conduct the audit, but it has emerged that only R21 million worth of work, which was outsourced to a company with actual experience in the field, was actually done.
The contract was irregularly awarded to the companies by the Free State Human Settlements Department in 2014.