South Africa’s ruling African National Congress secretary general Ace Magashule appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court with 15 others on Friday to answer to allegations of corruption.The trial, however, failed to proceed after the magistrate transferred the case to the Free State High Court where the 16 accused, including five companies, would face more than 70 fraud, corruption and money laundering charges on 11 August this year.
National Prosecuting Authority prosecutor Sipho Ngwema said his office, after a two-year investigation into the case, was set to begin the trial last year but the defence team requested for more time, saying it would only be available in August.
“Massive work has been done by all the investigation agencies – the Special Investigation Unit, the Hawks (police crack unit), the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions here in Free State and the Special Crimes Unit,” Ngwema said.
He added: “We are confident of our case against Magashule and his co-accused.”
Magashule said he hoped for a speedy trial “because justice delayed, you know, is something else.”
“We are looking forward to the 11th of August,” the ANC official said.
He insisted he had done nothing wrong to be accused of fraud, corruption and money laundering during his time as premier of the Free State Province.
“We are very ready in terms of what has to happen here,” Magashule said outside the court as his ANC supporters chanted songs of support.
The NPA, however, said his leadership at the regional government saw him allegedly award tenders and other state contracts fraudulently to cronies and friends’ firms.