Asbestos Gate case postponed for High Court trial

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ANC supporters waiting on ANC Secretary General, Ace Magashule, after the asbestos project case was postponed until 11 August 2021 for trial in the Free State High Court. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

The case of the failed asbestos project, worth R255 million, has been postponed and transferred to the Free State High Court for pre-trial proceedings on 11 August 2021.

Magistrate Mxolisi Saliwa postponed the case to August and warned suspects to appear in court as he extended their bail, reports OFM News.

Ten suspects, except accused number one, Nthimose Mokhesi, appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court to face charges ranging from fraud to corruption, amongst others.

Those who appeared in court include ANC Secretary-General (SG) Ace Magashule, former Mangaung Metro mayor Olly Mlamleli, and others. The suspects are all charged with more than 70 counts of fraud, theft, attempted theft, corruption in contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, and money-laundering, amongst others. They will be held accountable on charges of contravening various asbestos regulations, promulgated in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993.

They appeared alongside five companies, Blackhead Consulting, Diamond Hill Trading 71 (Pty) Ltd, 605 Consulting Solutions (Pty) Ltd, Mastertrade 232 (Pty) Ltd, and Ori Group (Pty) Ltd.

Three new suspects in the matter, Nozipho Molokoe, Thabiso Makepe and Albertus Venter were also released on bail after making their first court appearance following their arrest on Thursday by the Hawks.

Molokoe was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the Department of Human Settlements between 1 December 2015 and 31 March 2017. Makepe was the Chief Engineer of the Department of Human Settlements between 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2017. Venter, a lawyer, is the head of the legal department in the Free State Office of the Premier.

The three were granted bail of R50 000 each. The rest of the accused are also out on bail of R50 000 to R500 000.

Those who are facing prosecution include Mokhesi (61), the Head of Department: FS Human Settlements; Mahlomola John Matlakala (42), the Director for Supply Chain Management at Human Settlements; Pheagane Edwin Sodi (47) of Bryanston, Johannesburg, and owner of Blackhead Consulting (Pty); Sello Joseph Radebe (56), a businessman from Fourways, Johannesburg; Abel Kgotso Manyeki (38), a businessman from Clubview, Pretoria; Thabane Wiseman Zulu (53), the former Director-General for the National Department of Human Settlements; Mlamleli (63) of Bloemfontein, who was the MEC of Human Settlements and a former Mayor of Mangaung; and Magashule (61), the former Free State Premier.

They appeared alongside five companies, Blackhead Consulting, Diamond Hill Trading 71 (Pty) Ltd, 605 Consulting Solutions (Pty) Ltd, Mastertrade 232 (Pty) Ltd, and Ori Group (Pty) Ltd.

Lucky Nkuyane