Asbestos case: Magashule pretrial hearing postponed
The Bloemfontein High Court has postponed the preliminary hearing in the R255million bribery case of former Free State Prime Minister Ace Magashule until June.
Magashule and some of his co-defendants disputed aspects of the case, including evidence of asbestos corruption provided by witnesses to the State Capture Commission of Inquiry on which the state relied.
The suspended ANC secretary general has further filed documents in the High Court demanding that the state provide him with a list of all witnesses who implicated him.
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Prosecutor Naseer Cassim said on Monday that the state is still busy extraditing Magashule’s former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota, from the United States.
“It has been agreed that the case be postponed, regarding Cholota who is still in the United States. Cholota’s extradition is still ongoing,” Cassim said.
Cholota was initially courted by the state as a witness in the case, but changed her mind and has since been added to the list of defendants.
An arrest warrant was then issued against Cholota, who is studying in the United States.
At last appearance last year, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said extradition was in its infancy.
‘Cholota not loaded yet’
Speaking ahead of the court proceedings, NPA spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga told eNCA that Cholota had not yet been charged when told that the state had said she would have been charged during of the next court session.
“The ex-AP is no longer a state witness,” the court was told in November. She hasn’t been charged yet…I never said she would be charged then.
Cholota’s studies were reportedly funded by the Free State government.
ALOS READ: Ace Magashule’s former personal assistant becomes a state witness
Magashule and 15 others face charges of fraud, corruption, theft and money laundering in relation to a R255 million contract for the assessment and removal of asbestos from low-cost homes in the city. province.
They all face more than 70 charges.
Other co-defendants include former senior civil servants such as ex-Chief of Human Settlements Nthimotse ‘Tim’ Mokhesi, former Mayor of Mangaung and ex-MEC for Human Settlements Olly Mlamleli, and Edwin Sodi business.
The case dates back to 2014, when the provincial Department of Human Settlements awarded a R255 million asbestos assessment and removal contract to Diamond Hill and Blackhead Consulting.
It later emerged that only R21 million worth of work – which was contracted out to a company with actual experience in the field – had been carried out.
The legal representatives of others, including Sodi and Mokhesi, argued before Naidoo against the state’s use of Zondo commission evidence against them.
They said the evidence would render their trial “unfair” and interfere with their right to a fair trial.
The hearing continues.
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