NPA accuses Ace Magashule of trying to delay his corruption trial

Prosecuting Authority says in court papers former premier has a case to answer in the criminal court

07 December 2021 - 19:51 By FRANNY RABKIN
The NPA accuses suspended ANC secretary-general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule of trying to delay his criminal trial.
The NPA accuses suspended ANC secretary-general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule of trying to delay his criminal trial.
Image: Alaister Russell

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has said in court papers that Ace Magashule was trying to delay his criminal trial when he asked the high court to declare that there was no prima facie case against him.

The suspended ANC secretary-general has asked the Bloemfontein high court to declare that the state has no case against him capable of successful prosecution, adding that his prosecution was a “smear campaign”. He also asked the court to compel the prosecution to disclose the names of witnesses who specifically implicate him.

Magashule is facing charges of fraud and corruption relating to a R255m tender for an audit of asbestos roofing in the Free State. He is due back in court in February.

In court papers filed on Tuesday, prosecutor Navilla Somaru said that everything Magashule had asked for “should be raised during the course of his criminal trial”.

“This course of conduct is designed with the intent to delay the criminal trial, and avoid Magashule having to plead to the numerous charges he is indicted for,” she said.

Somaru said a list of all the witnesses in the case had already been provided to Magashule. There was no obligation on the state to specify which witnesses would testify against a specific accused — “more so in cases of corruption and money laundering and the like, such as this one where one act or piece of evidence may implicate multiple accused”.

She said there was indeed a prima facie case against Magashule.

After summarising the facts of the allegedly corrupt transaction, she listed specific payments.

“In all circumstances, since the payments were made at the instruction of Magashule, or at least were requested in his knowledge, there is a case for him to meet,” said Somaru.

She added there was no misconduct by the NPA related to Magashule’s former personal assistant Moroadi Cholota, as he had alleged.

Magashule had accused the state of prosecutorial misconduct in the way it had dealt with Cholota, claiming her as a state witness before even having a signed statement from her and even after his legal team had claimed her as a witness for the defence.

Attaching a November 2020 email, in which she had assured the NPA of her “100% co-operation in this matter”, Somaru said that, until a recent interview with her in the US last month, the NPA thought Cholota would be a state witness — “which was in keeping with the impression she created”.

“She was never forced or compelled to do so, and always the state without formal objection. It was only pursuant to that meeting that Cholota withdrew her co-operation.”

Once it was clear she had had a change of heart, the NPA decided to charge her as a co-accused, said Somaru.

In particular, Somaru denied Magashule's allegation that there was political interference in his prosecution, saying it was   a “bald and sweeping allegation”.

“The allegations are entirely vague, respectfully romancing, and fanciful,” said Somaru. 

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