#AsbestosGate case postponed yet again

Secretary-general Ace Magashule PHOTO: Gallo Images/Sowetan/Thulani Mbele

The much anticipated and long awaited R255 million asbestos project pre-trial involving a former Free State Premier, former heads of departments (HODs) and an MEC has yet again been postponed.

Free State High Court Judge, Corne Van Zyl, postponed the matter to 23 September 2022 for the continuation of the pre-trial.

All parties in the matter except former Premier, Ace Magashule, raised concerns about the postponement and labelled it as a delay tactic by the State.

Magahsule, former Human Settlements MEC, Olly Mlamleli, former Head of the department, Nthimotse Mokhesi and Businessman, Edwin Sodi, among others are accused of fraud, corruption, and money laundering surrounding the failed 2014 project – which was meant to eradicate asbestos roofing across the province.

The case has been dragging on for at least two years, having not even moved past the pre-trial stages yet.

Magashule, has slammed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and accused it of allegedly playing politics in the asbestos project criminal case. Magashule told Judge Corne Van Zyl that the state is using delay tactics. However, the state prosecutor Johan De Nysschen, shot down the accusation by Magashule and denied they were playing politics.

Mlamleli today told reporters that she stole nothing from the public purse during the 2014 project and said that she is innocent of the charges levelled against her. “I can be in on Table Mountain and tell everybody that ‘I, Olly Mlamleli did not steal anything’. I hear there is this thing called oversight but I didn’t steal anything and my hands are clean,” she added.

The accused in this case include Sodi; Mlamleli; Mokhesi; the Director for Supply Chain Management at Human Settlements, Mahlomola John Matlakala; a businessman residing in Johannesburg, Sello Joseph Radebe; a Pretoria businessman, Abel Kgotso Manyeki; the former Director-General for the National Department of Human Settlements, Thabane Wiseman Zulu; and Albertus Venter, who occupied a role in the Free State Premier’s office.

All of the accused are out on bail ranging from R5000 to R100 000, and were all warned to appear in court on the aforementioned date for the resumption of the pre-trial.

OFM News/Lucky Nkuyane