ANC responds to Ace’s arrest warrant

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is set to appear in court in Bloemfontein on Friday in connection with the R255-million asbestos audit scandal.

Although the Hawks are yet to confirm the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of Magashule, sources close to the investigation said that he will hand himself over in terms of an agreement with his lawyers.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said that the party had learned about the warrant for the arrest of Ace Magashule in the media.

“This afternoon, [the] secretary general advised the movement that he will be in consultation with his legal team to best respond to the latest developments and to guide any response in the matter,”  Mabe said.

Mabe said Magashule had previously spoken about his imminent arrest and had instructed his legal team to establish the validity of such a warrant with the relevant authorities.

However, this time around, sources close to the investigation have told the Mail & Guardian that Magashule’s lawyer was informed of the arrest warrant and an agreement had been reached that the former premier of the Free State would hand himself over to the authorities on Friday for processing.

“He will appear at the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on Friday and then the case will be escalated. For now, we have him for the asbestos case and the others are still being investigated,” said the source.

Mabe said Magashule had stated on more than one occasion, and through his legal team, that he would co-operate with any process undertaken by the law-enforcement agencies.

Mabe said the ANC would comment further and advise on its course of action as the matter unfolded.

“The ANC will be monitoring these developments closely and will accordingly communicate on any update should the need arise,” Mabe said.

It is not clear at this stage whether Magashule will abide by the “stand aside” rule instituted by the ANC national executive committee (NEC), in terms of which members and leaders charged with criminal activities or facing allegations of corruption should leave their posts until the matters have been concluded.

In terms of the ruling, accused people in the party leadership are also expected to appear before the party’s integrity commission, which would advise the NEC on what action to take against them.

Magashule has previously made it clear that he would not stand down over disclosures that his sons received personal protective equipment tenders valued at R2.7-million from the Free State government during the early part of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Last month a story about the warrant being issued was leaked to the media, with Magashule confirming that he was about to be arrested. However, the Hawks at the time said no warrant had been issued, and the move was seen to be an attempt by Magashule to ascertain whether he would be arrested.

This came after the Hawks arrested several people, including prominent businessman Edwin Sodi, involved in the theft of more than R200-million from the Free State department of human settlements under the guise of an asbestos audit in that province. 

The accused in the asbestos case, including Sodi and former Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli, are out on bail and are set to appear in court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.

Magashule’s supporters are expected to march in his support when he appears in court. An opposing grouping inside and outside the ANC in the province is also expected to march to the court on Wednesday in a demand for Magashule to be arrested and joined as an accused person.

Last month, the group marched on Luthuli House in support of the NEC cleanout and a demand for action against Magashule and called on the party to rein in the radical economic transformation forces in the province backing him, whey they said were continuing to loot municipalities and provincial departments in the Free State.

Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale had not responded to calls at the time of publication.

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