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S/Africa: Opposition wary of unrest threat ahead of ANC official’s trial

Suspended African National Congress secretary-general Ace Magashule will face corruption charges in the high court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, with…

Suspended African National Congress secretary-general Ace Magashule will face corruption charges in the high court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, with the opposition Democratic Alliance on Monday forewarning the Free State province to take measures to avoid a repeat of last month’s unrest in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng. 

Magashule, alongside other accused and five companies, are facing charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering involving the irregular awarding of a US$18.2 million asbestos roof removal contract.

Free State DA leader Roy Jankielson met with Premier Sisi Ntombela, other political parties and law enforcement agencies on preparations ahead of the accused’s court appearance.

Jankielson said the police presentation did not recognise the serious political threats and the role of politicians in instigating protests in the province.

“During this presentation, the South African Police Services and the premier indicated that they have the necessary intelligence and measures to ensure that no acts of violence will escalate into similar types of events that we saw in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, especially given the fact that former premier, Ace Magashule, will be appearing in court on charges of corruption,” Jankielson said.

He added: “The DA will continue to monitor the situation and hold the premier and law enforcement agencies accountable for any incidents that may occur in the Free State.”

Magashule applied to the Johannesburg high court in early July for an order overturning his suspension to “step aside” from the ruling ANC until the Free State case has been finalised.

The court, however, ruled that his suspension was lawful and valid. Magashule’s suspension of ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa in a letter that was written to him on 3 May was also rejected.

It found that the grounds on which Magashule sought to suspend Ramaphosa were not aligned to the requirements.

Magashule described the ruling as incorrect.

He said he would continue his bid “to have the ANC’s step-aside rule and the clause in the party’s constitution used to suspend him declared unlawful and unconstitutional.”

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