Newly elected ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has made a bizarre claim that his key ally was poisoned and that he sought help from President Jacob Zuma to get him to Russia for treatment, the City Press reported on Sunday.
He made the claims in Parys this week during a funeral service of his friend, Free State head of police Sandile Msibi.
He said North West premier Supra Mahumapelo accompanied him when they sought help from Zuma. Msibi died a few days later.
He was buried on Thursday, the day after he was to have been flown out of the country.
A deafening silence in the packed room of friends and family who had come to lay Msibi to rest followed Magashule's revelations.
He was a controversial figure and was being investigated for allegedly channelling millions of rands worth of legal consulting business for the province to his personal attorney.
The publication reported that he allegedly ensured that a firm controlled by a close friend bagged a lucrative provincial government contract.
"We said president [Zuma], we have a friend; that this man has been poisoned. Can we please take him to Russia? There are others who have gone to Russia and come back alive," Magashule told mourners.
During the proceedings, none of Msibi's relatives revealed details of his cause of death.
Magashule, however, stole the limelight by claiming his "best HOD in the history of the administration" was "murdered ruthlessly by heartless people".
However, activists in the Free State claimed Msibi could have been killed by his collaborators in corruption because he had "outlived his usefulness" and because the Hawks had him in their sights.
They said Msibi had been ill since August and that if Magashule wanted to, he could have intervened a long time ago.
Magashule blamed white monopoly capital for hunting down Msibi and his associates.