Corruption accused Ace Magashule granted R200 000 bail
Johannesburg – ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was granted bail of R200 000 by the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on Friday.
Magashule appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering related to an R255 million Free State asbestos audit project tender.
The State did not oppose bail and asked Magashule to hand over his passport, which he has, and he was warned not to interfere with State witnesses.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) also asked bail be set at R250 000 because of the seriousness of the charges.
The magistrate agreed with the request, but lowered the bail fee to R200 000, as Magashule said he was unable to afford it as his salary as ANC secretary-general was only R133 000.
He also told the court he had R700 000 in movable assets and no non-movable assets in his name.
The magistrate said his decision to allow Magashule out on bail was that he was convinced he was not a flight risk and would not interfere with witnesses.
He reiterated his decision was not based on agreements between the State and Magashule's lawyers.
Magashule's next appearance will be on February 19, 2021, where he will appear with his other co-accused, including businessman Edwin Sodi.
The State said the Free State asbestos case would be finalised soon and the case would likely be moved to the High Court.
Lawrence Hodes SC, representing Magashule, said his client denied the charges against him and that he never benefited from corruption.
The R255 million Free State asbestos contract was reported during the Zondo commission.
Sodi's company Blackhead Consulting and its joint-venture partner Diamond Hill, owned by the late businessman Ignatious Mpambani, were awarded the contract in 2014.
In evidence presented at the commission, it was revealed the contract was subcontracted twice and the final company which performed the asbestos audit did so for just over R20 million.
Magashule was implicated in the deal and his former personal assistant faced questions at the inquiry over requests for payments she made to Mpambani on behalf of Magashule.
The former assistant, Moroadi Cholota, has been confirmed as a State witness.
It is unclear whether Magashule will address his hundreds of supporters who had been marching outside the court since Thursday night.