Just in – former Free State premier Sekgobelo Elias “Ace” Magashule, now the ANC’s secretary-general, was released on R200,000 bail on Friday after he appeared briefly in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on 21 charges of corruption and fraud, alternatively theft and money laundering.

Sipho Ngwema, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson said the matter was postponed to 19 February 2021 for three more accused persons to be added to the charge sheet, alongside previously accused individuals.

Magashule was ordered to surrender his passport and inform the investigating team if he wishes to travel abroad, and not make contact with any witnesses, particularly his former secretary, Moroadi Cholota.

Ngwema said “In this regard, he may not, directly or through third parties, make any contact with her”.

The presiding officer said it was important to note that the decision to grant Magashule bail was not influenced by the position he holds in the ANC and in society, but by the evidence before him.

The defence wanted Magashule to be released on R20,000 bail.

The state, which did not oppose bail, said the bail amount should be in line with the seriousness of the charges against Magashule, which include fraud charges amounting to R255 million and corruption charges amounting to R800,000.

The state indicated that Magashule was not brought into court in shackles because he had complied with the arrangement that was in place that he should hand himself over and “there were no hassles in any way”.