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Magashule claims court delays are a ploy to derail his political ambitions

Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule on Friday walked out of the Free State High Court a frustrated man after the asbestos corruption case in which he is charged with 15 others was postponed to January 20 next year.

Although the postponement was chiefly as a result of a petition that he and three co-accused are set to take to the Supreme Court of Appeal, Magashule claimed the long adjournment is aimed at excluding him from the party’s elective conference set for December.

“It is deliberate because they want to exclude me from participation in the processes leading to Nasrec (the ANC elective conference),” Magashule told reporters outside court.

He boldly claimed the long postponement was a ploy by the state aimed at frustrating his political ambitions at the decisive conference.

“. . . they know I’m a politician and I can tell you I have ground support from branches of the ANC and communities, and that’s what they fear most,” added Magashule, who is widely anticipated to stand against President Cyril Ramaphosa for the party’s top position at the conference.

He vowed that despite the criminal charges that led to his suspension in the party, he will contest at the conference should he be nominated.

“I’m now saying to the branches of the ANC, if you don’t stand up and nominate whoever you want to nominate, forget about the ANC in 2024,” he said.

Magashule, businessman Edwin Sodi, Blackhead Consulting and Thabane Zulu initially brought an application to the High Court arguing there was no prima facie case against them to sustain a successful prosecution.

The application however failed, prompting them to turn to the SCA where the relevant papers are yet to be filed before the matter can be heard.

The other accused in the asbestos matter are Nthimotse Mokhesi, Mahlomola Matlakala, Sello Radebe, Kgotso Manyeki, Sarah Mlamleli, Nozipho Molikoe, Albertus Venter, Moroadi Cholota, Margaret-Ann Deidericks and three other companies – 602 Consulting Solutions, Mastertrade 232 and Ori Group.

They are facing charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

The charges relate to a R255-million asbestos contract that was awarded by the Free State Department of Human Settlements to the Blackhead Consulting joint venture to audit, assess and remove asbestos from houses in some of the province’s poorest areas, about six years ago.

Cholota is the only accused that was not in court as she is currently in the United States of America.

The state says it has started the extradition process to have her brought back to South Africa to stand trial. – Staff Reporter

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