There is a fundamental error to fraud, corruption and money laundering charges against me, says Ace Magashule
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Johannesburg - Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has told the Free State High Court that he objects to the corruption, fraud and money laundering charges he faces.
Magashule’s lawyer, Lawrence Hodes SC, told Judge President Cagney Musi on Tuesday that his client would file a formal objection to the charges he faced in relation to a R255 million asbestos roofs eradication project awarded during his tenure as Free State premier.
”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.
According to Hodes, Precca has a specific class of persons it refers to, and accused number 13 (Magashule) does not fall among them.
”We believe there is an irregularity to the charges and we want to pursue an objection to the charges,” he said. Hodes also told Judge Musi he had 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 in the box 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 were entitled to the list of witnesses.
”I have never in my life been involved in corruption,” he said. He also urged his supporters to vote for the ANC in the November 1 local government elections.
The indictment details the charges Magashule is facing, including using his influence when he was Free State premier to secure more than R1.1m 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 more than 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 amounted 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 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 the travel expenses of a delegation to Cuba, and R30 000 to an individual identified by prosecutors as SWC Nkate.