Heavy security presence in Bloemfontein ahead of the asbestos pre-trial involving Magashule

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The High Court in Bloemfontein will on Wednesday hear whether the state and the defence in the multi-million rand asbestos roofing case are ready to proceed with the trial.

The pre-trial hearing of 16 accused who include suspended African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Ace Magashule, former Free State Human Settlement MEC Olly Mlamleli, businessman Edwin Sodi and five companies will get underway later on Wednesday morning.

They are facing more than 70 charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering. The charges relate to the alleged irregular awarding of the R255 million asbestos roof eradication contract that dates back to 2014.

There’s a heavy security presence in and around the Bloemfontein High Court ahead of Magashule’s appearance.



Video: Heavy security presence in Bloemfontein ahead of Magashule and co-accused asbestos pre-trial

During the last appearance at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court, thousands of Magashule supporters gathered around the CBD saying the law enforcement officials must refrain from prosecuting him. This as the country was under a strict lockdown due to Covid-19. But not rules and regulations were observed by ANC members who came from provinces like the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal.

The ANC Interim Provincial Committee (IPC) in the Free State says party members may only attend the court case in their personal capacity.

“Our position is that as the ANC, we would not advise our structures to go as structures of the ANC to support members of the ANC who are facing corruption charges. However, people can go as individuals to support people who are facing corruption but not as the ANC. That is the position of the ANC,” says Oupa Khoabane, IPC member.

National Prosecuting Authority ready for Magashule asbestos pre-trial hearing

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State has raised concerns about the possible violation of the Disaster Management Act if people turn out in their numbers in support of Magashule. DA provincial leader Dr Roy Jankielsohn has warned that the party will hold the law enforcement agencies accountable if anything untoward happens at court.

“During the meeting in the legislature to all political parties represented there, the Premier and the management of SAPS made a commitment that they will act decisively if there are any incidents of violence or unrest and also where COVID-19 regulations are flouted,” says Jankielsohn.

Political analyst Dr Ina Gouws says Magashule will face an uphill battle in the High Court in Bloemfontein where he will appear to compel the National Prosecuting Authority to disclose the full indictment related to the asbestos corruption case.

Dr Gouws says Magashule is facing many battles.

“Apart from the fact that he is fighting for his political life especially from within the ANC. It’s going to be very difficult for him to face all the other court cases for corruption and such that he is facing in the near future when he is basically frozen out and certainly it will make life very difficult for him. So it would seem that his chances are not very good,” says Gouws.

Suspended ANC SG Ace Magashule files notice to appeal Gauteng High Court judgment