More charges are expected to be added against ANC secretary general and former Free State premier Ace Magashule, who is set to be in the dock this morning.
The National Prosecuting Authority has also announced that it has arrested three more people in connection with the Free State asbestos case, ensuring that 15 accused will be appearing at the Mangaung magistrate court.
Magashule, together with his co-accused, who include former Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli and businessmen Edwin Sodi, face charges of corruption, money laundering and fraud related to the asbestos roof project.
The state argues that unlawful” payments of R873 550 were made, allegedly distributed on Ace Magashule’s instruction, as part of the R255-million asbestos tender.
It was announced last year that Magashule’s former personal assistant has been secured as a state witness because of her knowledge of how the money was allegedly distributed.
This all relates to the controversial R255-million October 2014 tender to audit and replace hazardous asbestos roofs in the province. These roofs were an egregious legacy of the apartheid regime.
Roads in Mangaung’s central business district have been closed because hundreds of Magashule’s supporters are expected to camp outside the court.
Police have also barricaded roads leading to the courts with barbed wire fencing.
ANC members who refer to themselves as Radical Economic Transformation champions have been bussed in from various parts of the country in an attempt by Magashule’s allies to show the secretary general’s full might.
Magashule’s detractors, such as Mxolisi Dukwana, a former provincial executive committee member in the Free State, are also expected outside the court — but they’ll be protesting against Magashule.
The group said it encourages members of the party standing behind people affected by the asbestos roofs to wear orange T-shirts.
Last year, the ANC instructed party members against wearing party regalia at courts when showing support for party leaders who face serious charges.
Last weekend the ANC adopted its “step aside” resolution, assuring that action will be taken against Magashule.
The Mail & Guardian reported that the step aside guidelines said members must abide by the integrity commission’s recommendations.
In December, the integrity commission found that Magashule should step aside from his Luthuli House position or face suspension. In the past, he has indicated that he would refuse any attempt by the party’s leaders to remove him from his ANC secretary general position.
During his first court appearance, Magashule told supporters that only branches had a right to ask him to step aside.