Forensic audit, e-mails lead US court to approve extradition of Magashule’s former assistant for corruption trial

Court proceedings will start on June 14

11 June 2024 - 08:44
Ace Magashule's former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota, is in the spotlight. File photo.
Image: Screenshot Ace Magashule's former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota, is in the spotlight. File photo.

After two years, South Africa has managed to get a US court to approve the extradition of former Free State premier Ace Magashule's assistant allegedly linked to a R255m corruption case after it found the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) produced “sufficient evidence”.

The NPA initially filed for Magashule’s former personal assistant Moroadi Cholota, who was studying in the US, to be extradited in 2022 after linking her to the R255m asbestos tender corruption case. 

Cholota’s former boss and several Free State government officials are accused of being involved in a corrupt tender scheme and allegedly received bribes from the R255m tender awarded to corruption-accused businessman Edwin Sodi. 

On Friday, US judge Erin Aslan of the Maryland district court approved South Africa’s extradition application for Cholota, making a breakthrough for the NPA days before Magashule's trial starts on June 14. 

In her judgment Aslan said: “Cholota is alleged to have knowingly engaged in this scheme by using her government position to facilitate corrupt financial transactions. 

“South Africa’s extradition request is accompanied by indictments, sworn statements and affidavits, a forensic audit, e-mails and many other documents, all of which amply support a finding of probable cause to believe Cholota is the individual named in the pending South African indictment and that she committed the charged offences.” 

Aslan found evidence provided by South Africa was “sufficient” for extradition. 

“Having heard and considered the applicable law, filings, arguments of counsel and the proffered evidence of criminality pursuant, and having found that all the criteria for extradition have been satisfied, it is hereby certified the evidence against Cholota is sufficient to sustain the charges under the provisions of the proper treaty and, accordingly, Cholota is extraditable,” she said.

Cholota was arrested in April and remains in custody until US secretary of state Antony Blinken delivers a final decision on her extradition.

Magashule together with Nthimotse Mokhesi, Mahlomola Matlakala, Sello Radebe, Kgotso Manyeki, Sarah Mlamleli, Nozipho Molikoe, Albertus Venter, Cholota and Margaret-Ann Deidericks have been charged with fraud, corruption, money laundering and the contravention of the public finance management Act.