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By Makhosandile Zulu


Ace Magashule granted R200k bail

One of the bail conditions set is that the former Free State premier must not contact his former personal assistant.

Former Free State premier Sekgobelo Elias “Ace” Magashule, now the ANC’s secretary-general, was released on R200,000 bail on Friday after he appeared briefly in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 21 charges of corruption and fraud, alternatively theft and money laundering.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, said the matter was postponed to 19 February 2021 for three more accused persons to be added to the charge sheet, alongside previously accused individuals.

Magashule was ordered to surrender his passport and inform the investigating team if he wished to travel abroad, and not make contact with any witnesses, particularly his former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota – who has turned state witness.

“In this regard, he may not, directly or through third parties, make any contact with her,” Ngwema said.

The presiding officer said it was important to note that the decision to grant Magashule bail was not influenced by the position he holds in the ANC and in society, but by the evidence before him.

ALSO READ: Ace Magashule’s former assistant turns state witness

The defence wanted Magashule to be released on R20,000 bail.

The state, which did not oppose bail, said the bail amount should be in line with the seriousness of the charges against Magashule, which include fraud charges amounting to R255 million and corruption charges amounting to R800,000.

The state indicated that Magashule was not brought into court in shackles because he had complied with the arrangement that was in place, which required that he should hand himself over and “there were no hassles in any way”.

Asbestos saga

Magashule’s appearance follows that of Johannesburg businessman and owner of Blackhead Consulting, Pheagane Edwin Sodi (47), head of department of Free State human settlements, Nthimotse Mokhesi (61); director of supply chain management at the Free State human settlements department, Mahlomola John Matlakala (42); Fourways businessman, Sello Joseph Radebe (56); Pretoria businessman, Abel Kgotso Manyeki (38); former director-general of national Department of Human Settlements, Thabane Wiseman Zulu (53); and a former Free State MEC for human settlements and former mayor of Mangaung, Sarah “Olly” Mlamleli (63).

 ALSO READ: Mcebo Dlamini: Magashule charges setting a ‘dangerous precedent’

The seven were also arrested by members of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), the Hawks, in the Free State, Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng. This is subsequent to an investigation that was initiated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) which referred the matter to the NPA and the Hawks.

It is alleged that various payments were made by the Free State human settlements department to the Diamond Hill Trading 71-Blackhead joint venture, of which Igo Mpambani and Sodi were the account holders. This is after the companies waere appointed by Mokhesi as service providers on a contract of R 255,000,000.00. Mpambani was murdered in Johannesburg in 2017.

It is alleged that in August 2015, Magashule corruptly accepted gratification of R 53,550 from Mpambani, paid on his request towards the tuition fees of the daughter of a then-acting judge. It is further alleged that in June 2015 Magashule accepted a payment of R 470,000 from Mpambani, paid on his request to M–TAG Systems for the acquisition of 200 electronic tablets.

Furthermore, it is alleged that in June 2015, Magashule accepted a payment of R 30,000, paid on his request to SWC Nkate from Mpambani. Between November 2015 and January 2016, a payment of R 250,000, on his request, was made by Mpambani to Astra Travel towards travel expenses of a delegation to Cuba.

It is further alleged that Magashule failed to report corrupt transactions in contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004.

Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu

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