Bernadette Wicks
Senior court reporter
2 minute read
3 Nov 2021
11:20 am

Arrest warrant issued for Magashule’s US-based former personal assistant

Bernadette Wicks

Moroadi Cholota promised cooperation on the corruption case involving Magashule, but later did decided against it. 

Moloadi Cholota promised cooperation with the state, but later did an about-turn on her decision. Photo: YouTube screenshot

Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota, has apparently backtracked on an earlier agreement to be a state witness in his fraud and corruption case, and is now facing prosecution herself.

This emerged in the Bloemfontein High Court on Tuesday morning, when Magashule and his 15 co-accused in the case – which centres on a controversial R255 million contract meant to identify and eradicate asbestos roofing on low-cost homes across the Free State – made another appearance in the dock.

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. But early on in the court proceedings, the state announced she had turned state witness.

This became a bone of contention down the line, though. And in response to questions around the issue on Wednesday morning, state advocate Johan De Nysschen told the court she had now reneged on the agreement.

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He said local detectives had travelled to the United States – where she is living at the moment – to take her statement but that she had refused to cooperate.

“In the circumstances, I had no choice but to sign a warrant of arrest for her, and we are now busy with the process to get her back in South Africa,” De Nysschen said.

Her name would be added to the charge sheet as soon as she was back, he went on.

He denied any suggestion of dishonesty on the part of the state about Cholota’s status as a witness in the past, saying the latest developments were recent.

“She promised her cooperation but when push came to shove she did not want to cooperate – clearly and bluntly. So that changed the whole situation,” De Nysschen said.

Magashule was the Free State’s premier at the time the asbestos removal contract was awarded.

He and his co-accused stand charged with multiple counts of fraud, corruption and money laundering (among others) over the award, which ultimately resulted in little to no work ever actually being done.

The court heard that several of the accused had plans to raise formal objections which had to be heard ahead of the start of the trial.

Some claim they weren’t afforded the opportunity to make representations before they were charged with certain offences and that this was in breach of the relevant legislation.

Others, meanwhile, are challenging the state’s reliance on testimony they gave at the commission.

The case was postponed to February for these objections to be argued.