Edward Zuma at Ace Magashule trial, where ANC leaders bemoan court exclusion
Court safety measures 'dictatorship in the name of Covid-19' - Dakota Lekgoete
Top ANC members supporting party secretary-general Ace Magashule have been denied entry to the Bloemfontein magistrate's court, where he's making a second appearance on corruption charges, owing to Covid-19 safety measures.
This has provoked an angry response from ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Dakota Lekgoete, who has described the coronavirus safety measures as “dictatorship in the name of Covid-19", arguing that a bigger courtroom should have been used to accommodate him and other prominent Magashule supporters.
Lekgoete, along with other ANC heavyweights such as NEC member Bathabile Dlamini and ANC Ekurhuleni chairperson Mzwandile Masina, were among a host of high-profile Magashule supporters, many of whom were not allowed to enter the court owing to Covid-19 safety measures.
Magashule and 14 others appeared inside the Bloemfontein magistrate's court over corruption charges related to irregularities in the awarding of a R255m asbestos tender during Magashule's time as Free State premier.
Lekgoete said Covid-19 regulations were now a form of dictatorship.
“This is a dictatorship in the name of Covid-19,” said Lekgoete. “Why did they not choose a bigger court? I mean there are 15 accused and each brought a family member and then there are lawyers.”
Several ANC leaders who form part of the ANC faction branded “Radical Economic Transformation” have descended upon Bloemfontein. This while scores of Magashule supporters are singing and dancing outside court under heavy police guard.
The court precinct has been cordoned off with barbed wire.
Magashule was expected to address his supporters after his court appearance. But he had a few words to say to media before entering the court.
“You guys said we must have our day in court, I'm waiting for the court and they keep on postponing,” said Magashule.
Outside court, bussed-in Magashule supporters carried banners saying, “Hands off our SG Ace Magashule”.
Former president Jacob Zuma's son Edward was also outside the court in support of Magashule.
Magashule's struggle was the same as that of his father, he said.
“We understand what the SG is going through. Former president Zuma is going through the same thing. We know they are targets of white monopoly capital,” he said.
Magashule is also under pressure to step aside from his position after the ANC this week adopted new guidelines to enforce its resolution that party members facing criminal charges should voluntarily step down from their positions until their matters are resolved by the courts.