WATCH: Ace Magashule supporters jovial ahead of his expected court appearance
Bloemfontein - Supporters of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule have begun gathering outside the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court ahead of his much-anticipated court appearance on Friday morning.
Magashule was served with a warrant of arrest by the Hawks this week and he is facing corruption charges related to the R255 million Free State asbestos project.
Several other suspects were charged concerning the 2014 project and will return to court in February 2021.
The Rose Garden Park, which is situated a few kilometres from the court, is populated with several minibus taxis and buses carrying people. Magashule supporters from Gauteng started to arrive just before 5 am on Friday.
Hundreds of supporters, some wearing ANC flags and T-shirts, have started singing Struggle songs - with some having been edited with references to Magashule.
It seems most of those present travelled from Limpopo, Gauteng and Free State.
Magashule is expected to make a court appearance later on Friday morning and a stage has already arrived in anticipation of him possibly addressing his supporters.
Most of the supporters have declined to supply their names for publication. But three men, dressed in ANC T-shirts who travelled to Bloemfontein from Joburg, said they came as individuals to support Magashule.
They reiterated that they were not at the gathering on behalf of the ANC.
"We are here to support the SG of the ANC. As a law-abiding citizen each everyone is treated innocent until proven guilty. I have every right, in my own capacity, to support the SG. We are just here to support one of our own," the man from Alexandra said.
Bongani Madonsela from QwaQwa, who was dressed in full ANC regalia, said he was also in attandence to support Magashule, who he alleged was a victim of state corruption.
On Thursday night, a #HandsOffMagashule night vigil was held Rose Garden Park.
"The other ANC members are using state resources to prosecute their enemies," Madonsela said, without providing evidence to support his claims.
Magahsule met fellow top six members on Tuesday and briefed them on his pending court appearance.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said on Wednesday, in a media briefing, that Magshaule had made it clear he does not want anyone printing his name on T-shirts and protesting in his name.
He was adamant that he was prepared to see out the charges, Duarte said.
Duarte and ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashitile said the party would not stop its members from supporting Magashule as individuals, but not using the party's name.
Court proceedings resume at 9 am.