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People are being asked to falsely testify against me: Magashule

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Staff Reporter

Former Free State premier Ace Magashule says some people have been approached to come forward and make false claims against him in the asbestos corruption case which is set to go on trial soon.

He made the claim on Tuesday while addressing journalists outside the Free State High Court after the pre-trial conference was postponed to November 3.

“People are being asked to come and make false claims about me when the trial starts,” said Magashule without stating who the people are.

He would also not indicate if these people had been approached by the state to give the false testimonies or it was just private individuals.

“They have told me everything and we know who is behind this. I will expose them at the right time.

“I can’t wait to stand in the dock and state my case. These are just trumped-up charges.

“I have worked in government for about 25 years and I have not been involved in any corruption. I have not stolen even a penny.

“Why would I steal when I am about to leave government?” asked a frustrated Magashule, who is also suspended as the ANC secretary-general.

His legal team pressed the state during the sitting to furnish it with the list of witnesses so that they can adequately prepare themselves for trial.

There has been speculation whether Magashule’s former personal assistant Moroadi Cholota, who is now living in the United States, had agreed to turn state witness against him.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the state preferred not to discuss witnesses in the media.

“The NPA will not be saying who is our witness and who is not to the media. When the right comes, that information will be made public,” said Mhaga.

Magashule appeared together with 10 other accused persons in the matter and they are charged together with five companies.

The main charges they face include fraud, corruption and money laundering.

The state outlines its case in the final indictment saying: “When an organ of state in the national, provincial or local sphere of government . . . contracts for goods or services, it must do so with a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective.”

It says in terms of treasury of regulations, supply chain management, when procuring through a bidding process, should provide for: the adjudication of bids through a bid adjudication committee; the establishment, composition and function of bid specification, evaluation and adjudication committees; the selection of bid adjudication committee members; bidding procedures; and the approval of bid evaluation and or adjudication committee recommendations.

The prosecution argues that treasury regulations indicate that state organs are not obliged to consider an unsolicited proposal but may only consider such a proposal if, among others, a comprehensive and relevant project feasibility study has established a clear business case; the product or service involves an innovative design; the product or service involves an innovative approach to project development and management; or the product or service presents a new and cost-effective method of service delivery.

But according to the state, the Free State Department of Human Settlements, represented by Nthimotse Mokhesi, 61, who is the first accused in the matter, appointed Edwin Sodi, 47, his company Blackhead Consulting (Pty) Ltd and joint venture partner Diamond Hill (Pty) Ltd as a professional resource team for the eradication of asbestos in the Free State province.

Sodi and the two companies are now accused one, two and three in the matter. 

These were appointed on October 1, 2014 when a service level agreement was entered into.

The contract price amounted to R255 million and the department made an “advance payment” to the value of R51 million.

Diamond Hill was owned by the late Ignatius Mpambani who was murdered in 2017.

Accused three, four and five then subcontracted the work to Sello Joseph Radebe, 56, and his company Mastertrade 232 (Pty) Ltd at a cost of about R44.2 million.  

Radebe and the company are standing as accused seven and eight in the matter.

Accused seven and eight further subcontracted the work to Abel Kgotso Manyeki, 38, and his company Ori Group (Pty) Ltd at a cost of nearly R21.4 million.

Manyeki is accusednine while his company is the 10th accused.

The state alleges that Magashule, former human settlements MEC Olly Mlamleli, 63, and the government officials who have who have since been charged had a legal duty to comply with the stipulations in the Public Finance Managament Act (PFMA) as well as the treasury regulations.

The state further alleges that Magashule and the officials also had a legal duty to disclose the deviations from and/or non-compliance with departmental prescripts, stipulations in the PFMA and the treasury regulations.  

It also expected them to disclose the personal and/or business relationship between themselves and Sodi, Mpambani and/or companies which they were involved in or owned.

And as if to hold Magashule to his word, the state claims that on June 26, 2014, he delivered the State of the Province Address in his capacity as Free State premier in which he mentioned that the eradication of asbestos roofing project in the Free State would take place from 2014 to 2019.

The state has listed over 70 charges against the accused, of which Magashule faces three, namely fraud, corruption and failure to report corruption.

There are several counts attached to each charge.

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Municipal manager facing tender fraud charges granted bail

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THE ACCUSED . . . Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha is out on bail

Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha, 49, was on Friday released on a bail of R500 000 by the Phuthaditjhaba Magistrates Court after he was arrested by The Hawks for fraud, corruption and Contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The state alleges that he allegedly awarded a contract of R58 million to Kill Crime Security Company in 2020 without following proper procurement processes.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said Mothamaha allegedly signed a service level agreement on May 19, 2020, appointing the company to render security services to the municipality for a period of three months without following procurement processes.

“The municipality continued to pay Kill Crime Security Company for almost two years without a contract,” said Shuping.

He said Mothamaha was supposed to appear with his co-accused, father and daughter who are the owners of Kill Crime Security, Thabiso, 55, and Dimakatso Sekhosana, 29, on Monday after they were instructed by The Hawks to hand themselves over on Sunday, but he failed to do so.

The Sekhosanas appeared on Monday facing similar charges and were released on bail of R150 000 each.

Part of Mothamaha’s bail conditions are that he must not enter the offices of the municipality, not interfere with the investigations nor intimidate witnesses.

The case was postponed to September 30 for further investigations. – Staff Reporter

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Six nabbed for alleged theft of network batteries

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NABBED . . .  The six men believed to have stolen network batteries and damaged critical infrastructure

 Six men were due to appear in the Marquard Magistrates Court on Friday after being found in possession of eight network batteries believed to have been stolen.

Police spokesperson for the eastern Free State, Warrant Officer Mmako Mophiring, said the suspects were arrested following a joint effort by members of the SA Police Service, private security and farmers.

He said police received information from the community at about 3am last Wednesday saying some unknown men were digging up network boxes and cutting copper inside a manhole.

“The police activated and mobilised other members and arrested the first suspect who is a foreign national near a filling station while sitting inside a vehicle,” said Mophiring.

The man was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property after eight network power box batteries were found in his possession and failed to properly account for them.

While pursuing the matter with the help of some farmers, the police received information at about 8am that some five men were trying to hitch-hike near a certain farm to Senekal.

“The team quickly responded and arrested the three suspects who were successfully linked to the initially arrested suspect. Two other suspects managed to escape but were chased and arrested near a farm going to Senekal. Four of the six suspects are Illegal immigrants and two are South Africans,” he explained.

The six are aged between 23 and 30 years of age.

They are facing charges of contravening the Immigration Act, possession of suspected stolen property and damage of infrastructure.

Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane applauded the community and the team for the prompt arrests and urged them to “continue working together to fight crime”.

Meanwhile, three suspected armed robbers were sniffed out of their hideout in Thaba Nchu near Serwalo on Thursday morning following a petrol station robbery.

Police spokesperson in Mangaung, Sergeant Mahlomola Kareli, said in a separate statement four armed robbers arrived at the petrol garage just after midnight on Wednesday and threatened the security guard with a firearm before tying him up with wire and fleeing the scene with a undisclosed amount of cash and cans of motor vehicle oil.

The suspects demanded keys from the guard and gained access to the back offices.

And while others were busy helping themselves to the oil cans and cigarettes, others were busy grinding the safe to access the money inside.

The four then left the security guard with his hands and feet tightly fastened with a wire.

The guard was only rescued by staff starting duty at 5am.

The matter was reported to the police and a case of armed robbery was opened at Thaba Nchu Police Station and a manhunt was launched.

Luck ran out for three of the suspects aged between 38 and 40 after they were traced and found near Serwalo in Thaba Nchu at about 2am on Thursday and were arrested.

They were found with an undisclosed amount of money suspected to have been stolen during the robbery.

One suspect remains at large.

The three were due to appear in the Thaba Nchu Magistrates Court on Friday for business robbery. – Staff Reporter

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Garden scissor attacker nabbed

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THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

A 64-year-old man has been arrested after stabbing one person in the stomach with a broken garden scissor and injuring the victim’s family while holding them hostage.

Police say they were called to a place in Verkeerdevlei on Wednesday evening where a person had been stabbed in the stomach.

Upon arrival, they found a 53-year-old man who had been stabbed in the stomach with the broken scissor.

The suspect had already fled the scene.

“The victim was taken to hospital for medical treatment,” said Captain Stephen Thakeng in a brief statement.

Further investigations revealed that the same suspect went to the house of the victim’s 36-year-old daughter house where he held her and her two children – aged 13 and 15 – hostage.

“Tactical Response Team (TRT) members from Park Road were activated at about 21:30 and it was realised that the suspect was holding (the family) hostage in a three-roomed shack,” said Thakeng.

“The TRT members gained entry into the shack and rescued the three from the suspect.

“The three victims were also stabbed with the same half part of the big scissor.”

The suspect is facing a charge of attempted murder and three counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He will appear in the Verkeerdevlei Magistrates Court soon.

THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

Meanwhile, a man believed to be terrorising tuckshop owners around Bothaville was arrested on Wednesday following a tip-off by community members.

Police say they received information about a man with a firearm and who might be involved in robberies of tuck shops of foreign nationals at about 16:30.

The suspect’s house in Kgotsong was identified and members of Bothaville Crime Prevention approached it and asked for permission to search the place.

They were granted permission and a 9mm pistol was found and a 27-year-old man from Potchefstroom was arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The suspect will appear in the Bothaville Magistrates Court soon. – Staff Reporter

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