A huge police contingent has been deployed to the High Court in Bloemfontein. Several roads in the court precinct have been cordoned-off with the razor wire.
Suspended African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, 10 others, and 5 companies will be appearing in court on charges relating to the alleged irregular awarding of the multimillion-rand asbestos roof removal contract in the Free State.
The charges relate to the alleged irregular awarding of the R255-million asbestos roof removal tender in the Free State in October 2014.
In March, the High Court in Bloemfontein dismissed his application and those of three others and Blackhead Consulting to have charges against them dropped.
Magashule challenges the High Court judgment. He intends to escalate his legal battle to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
“They don’t have charges against me, they dint have witnesses against me, they know that this case was fabricated. They are just delaying me because they know they have an agenda and you talk about state organs not taking sides, here it is very clear. We are busy checking this and that and we will actually give real facts and very soon I will go to even Chief Justice and say but this is what I suspect.”
He has argued that charges against him are politically motivated:
Magashule has further argued that charges against him were politically-motivated. He’s also accused the prosecution of being dishonest by initially submitting that his former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota, was a State witness. Magashule says he will soon reveal the inconsistency in the justice system.
“They don’t have charges against me. They didn’t have witnesses against me. They know that this case was fabricated. They are just delaying me because they know they have an agenda and you talk about state organs not taking sides. Here it is very clear. I don’t want to tell you, but later on, I’ll talk about judges. It’s a matter of time, we are busy checking this and that and we will actually give real facts, and very soon I will go to even Chief Justice and say but this is what I suspect.”
Political analyst Professor Sethulego Matebesi says the appeal could put Magashule in the right political space if things go his way.
“That will mean that he will have an opportunity to stand as a candidate come the December elective conference of the African National Congress. and that we know it will have significant ramifications to those who have already written off ntate Ace Magashule.”
Legal analyst Lebohang Mokhele also agrees. He says should things go Magashule’s way he will cease to be an accused person in the asbestos case.
“If he succeeds with the appeal, that will mean he will be exonerated from the criminal trial which he is currently facing before the Free State high court in Bloemfontein. So in all likelihood, once the Appeal Court agrees with his submissions that will definitely mean that he will not be one of the accused persons.”
NPA ready for trial
Meanwhile, NPA spokesperson Advocate Mthunzi Mhanga says they are ready for the trial.
“As the prosecution team in the asbestos case, we are hoping that the pre-trial conference will proceed tomorrow in order to arrange a trial date. we are aware that there is an appeal pending before the supreme court appeal which might have a bearing on the proceedings of tomorrow. However, we are hoping that the parties could find each other and agree on a trial date.”
Magashule, 10 others and 5 companies face more than 70 charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering. In dismissing the application to have the charges dropped, the High Court found that the trial court was best placed to rule on the legal disputes raised by Magashule and his co-accused.
The Court ruled that a trial-within-a-trial can determine the admissibility of evidence against them.-Addition reporting by Kamogelo Seekoei