Magashule slams NPA as asbestos corruption trial is postponed

The trial of former ANC secretary-general and Free State premier, Ace Magashule, along with 17 other co-accused, has been postponed to June 14.

The trial, which has been on the pre-trial roll for over two years, was scheduled to commence in the high court in Bloemfontein on Monday.

The case involves allegations of fraud, corruption, and money-laundering, among other charges relating to a R255-million contract for the identification and removal of asbestos roofing on low-cost houses across the Free State.

Magashule, along with controversial businessman Edwin Sodi, former human settlements MEC Olly Mlamleli, and others, are accused of receiving significant kickbacks for their involvement in the scheme, with little to no work being completed under the contract.

I have never taken a cent

Speaking to the media outside the court, Magashule expressed his frustration with the delays in the trial, stating that he and his lawyers have always been prepared for proceedings to get under way.

He vehemently denied any wrongdoing, asserting that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has no evidence against him and labelling the case a “waste of time”.

“I have said I have never taken a cent and never stole any government money. I have never done anything wrong, and they know for sure,” Magashule asserted.

“We are ready for the trial. We were supposed to start today, but I do not know what is going to happen. It’s clear the state is not ready because they know they have no case.”

Legal challenges drag the case

The trial has faced numerous legal challenges from the defendants, including attempts to have the charges dropped.

However, both the high court and the Supreme Court of Appeal have dismissed these attempts, ruling that there were “no reasonable prospects of success” on appeal.

During the last court appearance, a warrant of arrest was issued for a representative of Diamond Hill Trading, one of the accused entities, after they failed to appear in court. 

The court on Monday scrapped the warrant of arrest and confirmed that bail has been extended for all the accused.

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