Corruption-accused Ace Magashule: I won’t step down as ANC secretary general yet

On Friday Ace Magashule was charged with 21 counts of corruption and fraud, alternatively theft and money laundering.

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule addresses supporters outside the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court where he appeared on 13 November 2020 on corruption-related charges. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

BLOEMFONTEIN - ANC secretary general Ace Magashule has told his supporters that only the branches of the ANC could decide whether he should step aside.

Magashule has been granted bail of R200,000 by the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court.

He has been directed not to make any contact with his former PA Moroadi Cholota who has now turned state witness.

This is in connection with the R255 million asbestos audit in 2014 when Magashule was Free State Premier.

Seven others have also been charged.

The case has been postponed to February.

Addressing supporters outside the court, Magashule said he would not be stepping down for now.

"I was elected by branches at conference. The voices of branches must say to me I must step aside and I will then do so."

This is in contrast to the instruction by President Cyril Ramaphosa that all members accused of an offence must step aside.

He says he would not ever leave the ANC, regardless of what happened.

WATCH: Ace Magashule: I will only step aside if the ANC branches tell me to

“I will never leave the ANC. I am not going to do like those leaders who left the ANC. I remain in the ANC. I will come fend for it. You won’t remove me. You will find me there.”

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe was also at the court and indicated that Magashule said he would continue to co-operate with the court.

“He was here in court and still showed the necessary cooperation. This is quite encouraging to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and to allow processes to follow their due course.”

Earlier, there was a confrontation between supporters and police.

WATCH: Chaos erupts at Ace Magashule’s court appearance on corruption charges

Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans spokesperson and staunch Magashule supporter, Carl Niehaus, was removed by police outside the court.

It's not clear why he was defying police orders but former North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo defused the situation and later accused police of poor handling of the crowds that had gathered this morning.

Niehaus claimed he was injured and he accused police of damaging his hearing aid.

GALLERY: Supporters come out in numbers for Ace Magashule

Among senior ANC members who attended the proceedings include Tony Yengeni.

In his message of support to Magashule, Yengeni said the secretary general was going nowhere and would remain in his position.

Former minister Malusi Gigaba said it was important that state organs maintained neutrality in the political affairs of the country and ANC factions.

Magashule agreed, saying the party had been infiltrated by those who were working with apartheid agents.

Mabe said the highest party structure would meet soon to discuss Magashule’s future.

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