Pre-trial in Ace’s case postponed

Strict Covid-19 protocol was upheld during the asbestos housing audit case at the Bloemfontein High Court today.

The pre-trial proceedings in the R255 million asbestos housing audit case have been postponed to 3 November.

This is to allow all the accused ample time to submit their responding affidavits to the charges leveled against them by the state. One of the accused, who is yet to submit this notice, is suspended ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, reports OFM News.

It was revealed during brief court proceedings in front of Bloemfontein High Court Judge President, Cagney Musi, on Tuesday that the former Free State Premier wants access to the state’s list of witnesses that are said to implicate him in the unlawful project.

Prosecutor Johan de Nysschen was heard saying that they would consider this request.

The accused, in this case, includes Limpopo businessman, Edwin Sodi; former Mangaung Metro Mayor, Olly Mlamleli; the former head of the Free State Department of Human Settlements, Nthimotse 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.

It’s alleged Sodi irregularly awarded the housing audit tender via his joint venture with Diamond Hill Trading, owned by murdered Welkom businessman, Igo Mpambani, by the Free State Human Settlements Department in 2014. Not only was the tender irregular but it is reported that kickbacks were given to some of the accused.

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

One of the state’s key witnesses is expected to be Magashule’s former personal assistant Moroadi Cholota, who is said to be studying in the United States at present. As outlined in Pieter Louis Myburgh’s Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture, Cholota made several requests for money transactions to Mpambani.

Meanwhile, Magashule has vehemently refuted reports that the people of the Free State are fed up over alleged corruption that took place during his tenure as premier. When asked about failed projects and service delivery constraints, especially in Mangaung, the former Free State head asked the media why they weren’t asking the incumbent provincial government these questions because his previous government was the “best” the province has had.

“I was premier for 10 years. Have you heard the people of the Free State complain during our term? Have you ever?” said Magashule to the media on his time as the head of the province. He also defended former Mangaung Mayor and co-accused Olly Mlamleli.

Olebogeng Motse