ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule was released on bail of R200,000 after he made his first appearance in a packed Bloemfontein magistrate’s court on Friday to face charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.
Magashule’s advocate, Laurance Hodes, brought an application for his release on bail after he had presented himself to the Hawks on Friday morning for charges related to the controversial 2014 Free State asbestos roofing removal project, while he was premier of the province.
Hodes had asked for the court to set the bail at R20,000 and said Magashule had fully co-operated with the investigating team.
Hodes said even when Magashule heard rumours about his impending arrest on October 6, he — through his attorney — contacted the Hawks the next day tendering his full co-operation.
Hodes said while the Hawks had requested Magashule to present himself to the Hawks by 10.30am, Magashule presented himself to the investigating team by 8.30am.
Hodes said Magashule had no previous convictions or pending cases.
Arguing for a lower bail amount, Hodes said there was no allegation in the charge sheet that Magashule financially benefited from the project.
The state did not oppose his release on bail but said Magashule faced serious charges related to the project, which cost the Free State human settlements more than R200m.
It asked for bail to be set at R250,000.
Hodes said Magashule could not afford such an amount as he was paid R133,000 per month as secretary-general of the ANC.
In granting bail, the court was satisfied that Magashule has shown the court that the interests of justice permitted his release on bail.
The court viewed an amount of R200,000 as suitable.
His bail conditions include that if Magashule intends applying for a travel document, he must inform the investigating officer.
He should also not contact any witnesses.
by Ernest Mabuza