President Cyril Ramaphosa’s war on corruption saw current ruling African National Congress secretary-general Ace Magashule arrested, taken to court and granted bail at a brief court appearance in the Bloemfontein Magistrate Court on Friday.According to the charge sheet, Magashule is being accused of corruption for a US$17 million asbestos tender allegedly awarded to businessman Edwin Sodi in 2014 when the ANC official was the premier of North West Province.
To avoid the embarrassment of being seen nationwide in handcuffs, Magashule handed himself to the Hawks, the police crime busting unit, in Bloemfontein.
The move followed the issuing of a warrant of arrest on Tuesday which led Magashule’s defence team and the law enforcement agents to negotiate his arrest conditions.
When magistrate Amos Moos questioned why the accused was not brought in shackles as was normal practice with typical court proceedings, state advocate Johan de Nysschen replied that the ANC official was compliant and there was an agreement between the state and his legal team.
Satisfied with the explanation, Moos granted Magashule a US$6,000 bail, but ordered him not to contact any state witnesses in the case.
“We know Ace Magashule is not corrupt and he’s not guilty,” one of Magashule’s supporters present at the bail hearing, ANC member Malefu Mofokeng, said.
He claimed that the charges being brought against the secretary-general were meant to prevent him from contesting for the ANC presidency against Ramaphosa in the next polls.
“We are aware of sabotage,” Mofokeng said.