Bad news for suspended ANC Secretary-General and three other co-accused in the multimillion rand asbestos corruption case: In what is considered a victory for the National Prosecuting Authasbority (NPA), the High Court in Bloemfontein dismissed their bid to have the charges dropped.
Presiding Judge Soma Naidoo found that the four did not make any compelling arguments for why the issues at hand could not be dealt with by the trial court when the case is heard.
One of the co-accused is controversial businessman Edwin Sodi, who recently appeared before a Johannesburg court for attempted murder, assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm (GBH), and pointing of a firearm.
NPA SCORES VICTORY IN ASBESTOS CASE
The NPA’s Mthunzi Mhaga has welcomed the court’s ruling and is now prioritising the asbestos case, including ensuring that the pretrial conference is concluded on the next court date so that a trial date can be arranged.
“We have always maintained that all the matters raised by the accused should be ventilated by the trial court when the trial proceedings commence. The NPA has full confidence in the strength of its case and will let the evidence speak for itself during the trial.”
The NPA’s Mthunzi Mhaga
Ace Magashule maintains that the case against him has no merit and is politically motivated. Magashule says contrary to what some may believe, he is not corrupt and has always supported efforts to tackle grand graft within the ANC.
In 2014, the Free State human settlements department awarded a contract worth a whopping R255 million to two companies – Diamond Hill and Blackhead Consulting. This was to audit and assess houses for asbestos roofs in the province. The project entailed inspecting 300 000 low-cost houses, however it would later be revealed that almost no work was no done, despite the money being paid.
At the time, Magashule was still the province’s premier – he is alleged to have condoned and accepted a number of gratifications on behalf of others from Ignatius “Igo” Mpambani, the late owner of Diamond Hill Trading. Blackhead Consulting is owned by controversial businessman Edwin Sodi, who is among the accused. The payments total over R1 million, including R300 000 for tablets and R53 000 towards the tuition fees for the daughter of an acting judge.