Magashule’s former PA unpacks FBI, Hawks’ alleged intimidation
By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons
In an explosive statement, Moroadi Cholota – who served as suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s personal assistant – has shared how she was grilled by the FBI and Hawks to reveal her boss’s alleged corrupt affairs.
The letter which surfaced on Saturday and which was sent to Independent Media was drafted by Cholota with the assistance of her legal representatives.
Magashule and his 15 co-accused face charges relating to the R255 million asbestos roofs eradication project.
According to Cholota, without proper consultation, she learnt that she would appear as a State witness via newspaper articles.
“Prior to this not a single person had contacted me, informed me nor asked whether or not I consented to being a so-called State witness in these criminal proceedings.
“My family was blindsided by this sudden revelation, and hurt that I had not informed them that I made this decision or had been approached about this,” she wrote.
Cholota said she emailed the SAPS that had initially not responded to her enquiry. Days later she apparently received a response from the SAPS which read: “I am sure that by now you have been informed of the arrest of Mr Magashule on the above matter. You are hereby informed that you will be called as a State witness in the criminal trial.”
Cholota appeared before the Zondo Commission to give an account of her tenure under Magashule.
In September this year Cholota recounted that she experienced intimidation and unethical conduct by investigating officials when she was woken up to loud bangs on her apartment door. To her surprise, she was greeted by FBI officials who informed her to get dressed and “come with them”.
Things unfolded in Washington DC.
“I was not told where I was going, nor why I was being asked to go with them. Such was the degrading treatment that a female FBI agent was directed to accompany and escort me upstairs to get dressed. I was not given any privacy or respect.”
Cholota said despite insisting on driving herself, she noticed four “large black-out SUVs belonging to agents” that had come to her door unannounced. She managed to message a friend to say that she was being taken to the Sheraton Hotel by the FBI.
At the hotel, they were greeted by two investigating offices from South Africa who thanked the FBI for escorting her. “My worried friend arrived at the Sheraton Hotel as well, and to my surprise, the FBI mentioned the exact time my friend had been to my apartment and even knew their name!”
She expected questioning to be based on her presentation at the Zondo Commission, but Cholota claimed that investigating officers appeared to “almost be pushing me towards giving more information and opinions on matters unrelated to the information in the affidavit”.
This was when she apparently started feeling uncomfortable and felt that officers had attempted to incriminate her. She was further accused of having an “attitude” and that her answers to questions were of “no value”.
Cholota said she stuck to her guns and only gave testimony of what she had stated at the Zondo Commission and apparently left officials “no choice but to treat you as a suspect”.
At the South African Embassy she received a charge sheet which charged her with corruption, money laundering and fraud. Shortly after she was detained.
“The decision to intimidate, threaten and then promptly charge me without reason or grounds is the most blatantly egregious contravention of my constitutional and other rights both as a witness and as a citizen of South Africa.
“Nothing about any of this conduct and behaviour has been ethical.
“I trust that once this information reaches the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi, Ambassador to the United States Nomainiya Mfeketo and Minister Ronald Lamola, it will be clear what an injustice this has been and the charges against me will be dropped with immediate effect.” IOL