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Ruling party leader gets bail in graft case


JOHANNESBURG

A court in South Africa on Friday granted bail to Ace Magashule, secretary general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), in a multimillion-dollar corruption case.

Magashule, a powerful politician who manages daily affairs of the ruling party, turned himself in to police on Friday morning, days after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The warrant was issued over Magashule’s alleged role in a $15 million contract to remove asbestos from homes in poor neighborhoods in the Free State province, where he served as premier from 2009 to 2018.

He appeared before a court in Bloemfontein, where a magistrate said the 61-year-old faces 20 counts, including fraud and corruption, according to the charge sheet drawn up by prosecutors.

“To put it on record, state prosecutors are not opposing the release of the accused Magashule on bail,” Magistrate Amos Moos said as he granted the politician bail for 200,000 rand (over $12,700).

Among the bail conditions are orders to Magashule to refrain from attempting to influence any witnesses against him, including his former personal assistant who has become a state witness.

The magistrate said the case hearing will start on Feb. 19, 2021.

South Africa’s politics has been marred by several corruption cases over the past decade, and an inquiry commission has been set up to probe allegations of wrongdoing during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure.



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