Ace Magashule prepares to fight charges
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CAPE TOWN - There is a fundamental error in suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s charge sheet and his legal team is expected to file a formal objection to the charges in relation to the R255 million asbestos roof eradication project awarded during his tenure as Free State premier.
Magashule and his co-accused in the fraud and money laundering case appeared briefly in court on Tuesday.
The indictment details the charges Magashule is facing, including using his influence when he was Free State premier to secure more than R1.1 million in payments from late businessman Igo Mpambani, who was gunned down in 2017.
Magashule is accused of instructing Mpambani and his company Diamond Hill Trading 71, to make payments totalling over R1.1m between June 2015 and January 2016.
Prosecutors state that Magashule should be found guilty of corruption for breaching Precca for facilitating the payment of R53 550 towards the settlement of tuition fees for former SA Revenue Service chief officer: legal counsel and one-time acting judge Refiloe Mokoena’s daughter in August 2015.
The National Prosecuting Authority said the payment amounts to abuse of a position of authority, breach of trust and/or violation of his legal duty or a set of rules.
Mpambani and Diamond Hill Trading 71 also allegedly paid R300 000 to Griffin Edge for the acquisition of 200 electronic tablets also at Magashule’s request.
Other payments made by Mpambani or his company allegedly at Magashule's insistence include R250 000 to Astra Travel towards travel expenses of a delegation to Cuba and R30 000 to an individual identified as SWC Nkate by prosecutors.
But Magashule’s lawyer Lawrence Hodes SC told the court yesterday his client would file a formal objection to the charges he faces.
“There is a fundamental error to the charge. We are objecting to the charge because it doesn’t fall within the definition of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca),” he said.
Precca, according to Hodes, has a specific class of persons it refers to and accused number 13 (Magashule) does not fall in them.
”We believe there is an irregularity to the charges, and we want to pursue an objection to the charges,” he explained.
Hodes also told Judge President Cagney Musi he asked the state to identify which witnesses implicated Magashule.
Judge Musi asked prosecutor Johan de Nysschen: “Why are you not prepared to give a list of witnesses implicating accused number 13? Is there any objection to giving the list of witnesses implicating accused number 13?”
De Nysschen responded: “We can revisit that issue closer to the trial. They will have to read the whole docket, unfortunately. I will consider it”.
The matter was postponed until November 3 for a pre-trial conference.
Outside court, Magashule insisted that the matter was “political” and that the prosecution had no witnesses and no evidence.
“We hope we are going to have a fair trial. I am ready to get into the box because I will talk about some of the things that I cannot talk about right now,” he said.
Magashule said he and his 15 co-accused are entitled to the list of witnesses.
“I have never in my life been involved in corruption,” he said.