Sunday World

Magashule questions loyalty of witness

Suspended secretaryg­eneral files for access to Cholota's affidavit

- By George Matlala

Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has taken his fight to be reinstated to his powerful position in the governing party to the National Prosecutin­g Authority (NPA).

Magashule has filed papers to compel the NPA to produce an affidavit that shows that his former personal assistant, Moroadi Cholota, was a state witness in his R255-million asbestos case.

In November, when Magashule was making his first appearance at the Bloemfonte­in Magistrate Court, the NPA claimed that Cholota had turned state witness against the former Free State premier. But Cholota has reportedly since denied agreeing to be a state witness.

Magashule is facing 21 counts of fraud, corruption and money laundering related to an asbestos audit project, which was awarded to a company owned by politicall­y connected businessma­n Edwin Sodi. He was granted bail of R200 000. The court also ruled Magashule should not speak to Cholota as part of the bail conditions.

In his latest applicatio­n, Magashule said he was shocked that advocate Johannes de Nysschen, on behalf of the NPA, had pushed for the condition that barred him from speaking to his former PA as she had used the same lawyer (Victor Nkhwashu) as him during her testimony at the Zondo Commission inquiry into state capture on the asbestos matter.

“Cholota had been required to and deposed an affidavit in terms of the commission’s rules in which she was assisted by Nkhwashu. I must state that the affidavit was consistent with all our previous encounters with state organs, including but not limited to, the public protector and are supportive of each other,” he said.

“I knew that Cholota had not implicated me in any wrongdoing because I was never involved in any. I thus thought her version would have to be changed for it to be beneficial to the state. I was thus comforted by the thought that she would have to explain the basis upon which she recanted her previous version or stood a chance of being charged with perjury, having changed a version she swore to under oath,” he added.

Magashule said Cholota had deposed a statement to Nkhwashu before being approached by the state and was therefore a defence witness not a state witness.

He said Cholota had approached Nkhwashu to assist when the FBI contacted her to confirm where she lived in the US.

“After I had been charged and appeared in court, the ANC decided to suspend me from my position as the secretary-general due to the fact that I am facing the present charges. Notably, no regard was had to the strength of the case against me and more significan­tly, that Cholota’s affidavit has not been signed and that there is no clear indication of whether she is going to testify against me or not,” Magashule said.

On Tuesday, Magashule wrote to de Nysschen, accusing him of not disclosing the part of the docket on Cholota, saying there was political interferen­ce.

De Nysschen replied to Magashule, saying at the time they were requested to disclose whether Cholota would testify against the former premier or not, they were not prepared to do so.

“After the lapse of time and at this stage of the process as well as allegation­s made in the applicatio­n, we have decided to disclose the sections to inter alia show that the allegation­s pertaining to interferen­ce etc, are unfounded,” he said.

I knew Cholota had not implicated me in any wrongdoing because I was never involved in any

 ??  ?? Ace Magashule
Ace Magashule

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