Multi million rand asbestos trial to start on Monday

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After more than two years on the pre trial roll, the trial of the multi million rand asbestos roof removal scandal will get under way in the Free State high court on Monday. 18 accused including companies are facing more than 70 counts of corruption and money laundering.

This relates to the alleged irregular awarding of the R255-million asbestos roof removal contract in the Free State in October 2014.

The accused include former premier of the Free State Ace Magashule and businessman Edwin Sodi amongst others.

Year in review: Free State asbestos corruption case 5 January 2023:

Magashule,  Sodi, former human settlements MEC Olly Mlamleli and others face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

A bid by Magashule and some of the accused to have charges against them dropped was dismissed by both the high court and the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). During the last appearance, a warrant of arrest was issued for accused 5, Diamond hill trading representative after failing to make it to court without an apology.

This is the company owned by the late Phikolomzi “Igo” Mpambani. Mpambani was shot dead in Sandton in July 2017 in a suspected hit.

The State alleges that between June 2015 and January 2016, Magashule either received or benefited from unlawful payments of more than R1 million from Mpambani.

Dikeledi Moeti is a legal analyst says, “What we are expecting to be done is that, if all the legal representative and the NPA as well are ready then the trial will start.”

Former Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that the asbestos roof removal contract was not cost effective. To date, more than 30 000 houses still have asbestos roofs. The contract was awarded to joint venture, Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill Trading, in October 2014.