Controversial ANC secretary-general and Free State Premier Ace Magashule is implicated in a property deal with the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) that saw his long-lost daughter score R9-million for doing nothing.
A News24 investigation shows that 27-year-old Thoko Alice Malembe, Magashule's estranged daughter with whom he was reunited in 2011, scored a contentious property deal with the FDC, a government entity whose chairperson is said to be a long-time ally of Magashule.
Malembe was born shortly after Magashule went into exile in the late 1980s and was reunited with the premier in 2011, partly thanks to the intervention of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Neither Magashule or Ramaphosa have denied the story about Malembe's reunion with the premier.
Since this reintroduction, the young businesswoman's fortunes have improved drastically, largely due to a string of government tenders and property deals she secured from the provincial government under Magashule's control.
In one of the most troubling deals, Magashule himself allegedly helped ensure that properties owned by the FDC ended up in his daughter's hands. A concurrent R11m "upfront" rental agreement with petroleum giant Shell helped Malembe to purchase one of these properties from the FDC while allowing her to pocket a further R9m without so much as lifting a finger.
As a result of the latter property deal, a once thriving fuel station was forced to shut down, leaving more than 60 employees in the rural town of Phuthaditjhaba in the eastern Free State without jobs.
Video footage from security cameras shows Magashule and a group of men, including two FDC board members, inspecting this property in 2014. They were joined by a young woman who appears to be Malembe.
Malembe also happens to be a business associate of Hantsi Matseke, the FDC's chairperson and a long-time ally of Magashule. Malembe's and Matseke's respective companies have both greatly benefited from government contracts in the Free State and have worked together on some of these projects.
After Magashule's visit to the fuel station, Malembe's trust won a contentious FDC bid to become the property's new owner. Fuel giant Shell subsequently signed a R11.5m lease agreement with Malembe. A portion of this upfront lease payment was used by Malembe's trust to buy the property from the FDC.
Magashule has denied that he influenced the FDC property deal or any contracts awarded to Malembe's company.