Details sketchy surrounding extradition of Magashule’s former PA

Moroadi Cholota, former personal assistant to Ace Magashule. Photo: Dimpho Maja/ANA

It remain unclear over whether Ace Magashule’s former PA will be among the suspects appearing at the Bloemfontein High Court on Friday (14/6) in the controversial R255 million asbestos case.

A US court recently found Moroadi Cholota’s charges are “extraditable offenses”. Cholota was apprehended in the United States last month and has since appeared before a US court. The pretrial hearing involving 18 suspects, facing a range of charges including fraud, corruption, and money laundering, initially took place on 15 April, but was postponed to 14 June.

The defense had requested additional time to address various administrative issues, including the lack of legal representation for some accused companies. Former Free State Human Settlements MEC Olly Mlamleli was notably absent from the Bloemfontein High Court on the last scheduled date, having submitted a sick note.

The extradition process in the US does not impact the state’s case, said Free State and Northern Cape NPA spokesperson Mojalefa Senokoatsane. “The prosecution has indicated on numerous occasions it’s ready to proceed with the trial.

“The extradition process was never a hindrance to the state’s case. The prosecution is, was, and will be ready for trial as previously indicated.” Magashule has criticised Cholota’s arrest, describing it as an injustice.

“A poor girl is just studying there. The state said she was a state witness, and when she refused to be coerced into signing the statement, she was charged. What an injustice. She’s supposed to finish her studies this year, alone in a foreign country. I’m sure that’s a bit tough for her.”

‘Kickbacks were reportedly given to some of the accused’

The state alleged Limpopo businessman Edwin Sodi was irregularly awarded the housing audit tender by the Free State Human Settlements Department in 2014, via his joint venture with Diamond Hill Trading, owned by slain Welkom businessman Igo Mpambani. The tender was irregular, and kickbacks were reportedly given to some of the accused.

OFM News previously reported the State’s Advocate, Nazeer Cassim (SC), argued there was a flagrant breach of Treasury regulations when awarding the controversial multi-million rand project. It was commissioned to eradicate the asbestos roofs of 30,000 households across the province in 2014.

In this case, the accused include, the former Mangaung Mayor Olly Mlamleli, former Free State Department of Human Settlements head Nthimotse Mokhesi, Department of Human Settlements supply chain management director Mahlomola John Matlakala, Johannesburg businessman Sello Joseph Radebe, Pretoria businessman Abel Kgotso Manyeki, former national Department of Human Settlements Director-General Thabane Wiseman Zulu, and Albertus Venter, who occupied a role in the Free State Premier’s office.

The implicated group faces more than 70 counts of fraud, theft, attempted theft, corruption, and money laundering. Following their arrests, the accused were released between R50,000 and R500,000 on bail.

OFM News/ Kekeletso Mosebetsi