NATIONAL NEWS - Former North West premier, Supra Mahumapelo, as well as former state security minister, Bongani Bongo, have touched down at the building where the former Free State premier Ace Magashule was expected to hand himself over to the Hawks.
This was ahead of his first appearance at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court later on Friday morning. Mahumapelo addressed media outside the building, revealing his and Bongo’s intentions.
Mahumapelo, who is now a member of Parliament, said they believed in Magashule’s innocence and also called on the ANC leadership to respect the legal processes.
According to the SABC, ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Tony Yengeni, former finance minister Malusi Gigaba, Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina and Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus were also present.
The situation in Charlotte Maxeke Street was frenzied, with members of the public gathered. There was a heavy police presence in the area.
Magashule was appearing in connection with the controversial 2013-2014 controversial housing audit tender worth R255 million.
On Wednesday, Magashule’s co-accused appeared briefly before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court. The case was been postponed to 19 February 2021.
The state said this was to enable authorities to continue investigations, with three more suspects sought for arrest. Magashule was the first of these three suspects.
Magashule’s co-accused include chief executive officer (CEO) of the Blackhead Consulting, Edwin Sodi; former head of the Free State human settlements department Nthimotse Mokhesi; businessman Sello Radebe; the former director-general (DG) of the national Human Settlements Department Thabane Zulu; and former Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli, among others.
They were granted bail in early October 2020 of between R50,000 and R500,000. At the time of the bail applications, prosecutor Johan de Nysschen said these were extremely serious charges that could land any one of the accused in jail for up to 15 years.
Sodi’s Blackhead Consulting was awarded a R255 million rand tender in a joint venture with Diamond Hill Trading, owned by slain Welkom businessman, Igo Mpambani, by the Free State human settlements department in 2014. Sodi previously admitted to the Commission of Inquiry in State Capture his failure to declare that his company had no accreditation to carry out the entire project.
He further revealed that he invested in residential property in Bloemfontein with Mokhesi. The former provincial human settlements head of department, during his own testimony before the commission, could not respond to questions as to why Sodi invested R650,000 in the house he lived in just months after his department awarded the tender.
Zulu is said to have benefited from a R600,000 payment towards the purchase of a Range Rover made by Sodi in KwaZulu-Natal, in December 2016. Mlamleli was the then Free State MEC for human settlements.