Photo: Gallo Images
Three Free State government officials are expected to appear before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday, alongside Ace Magashule and others, in relation to a dodgy R255 million asbestos contract
Photo: Gallo Images
Three senior government officials in the Free State have been arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, for their alleged role in the multimillion rand asbestos matter. The trio was handcuffed on Thursday, 18 February 2021, just a day before African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Ace Magashule is expected to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court in relation to the same matter. The suspects will also be in the same dock.
“Three senior government officials were arrested by the Hawks’ serious corruption investigation team in the early hours of today [Thursday] in Bloemfontein in relation to the asbestos investigation facing charges of corruption,” said Hawks national spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale.
“The allegations relate to a contract that was awarded through a procurement process that was done in a fraudulent and corrupt manner. The contract was meant to identify and remove asbestos roofs in the Free State province. During that period the department incurred unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure worth over R255 million”
In 2014, the provincial human settlements awarded the controversial a contract to two companies – Diamond Hill and Blackhead Consulting, to audit and assess houses for asbestos roofs in the province. The project entailed inspecting 300 000 low-cost houses, however it would later be revealed that almost no work was no done, despite the money being paid.
At the time, Ace Magashule was the premier of the Free State. Other accused in the matter include ANC-aligned businessman Edwin Sodi, former Mangaung mayor, Olly Mlameli, Free State Human Settlements head Nthimotse Mokhesi, supply chain officer Mahlomola Matlakala, Sello Radebe, former Msunduzi municipal manager Thabane Zulu and director or ORI group Abel Monyeki.
They appeared in court in November 2020 and were granted bail ranging from R50 000 to R500 000.
“The two companies subcontracted two other separate companies, of which one allegedly did the work for only R21m; R230 million was paid to the initial contracting company and Sodi, director of the company, Blackhead Consulting, who is still attempting to secure in court the ’remaining’ payment of the rest of the money, which is R25m,” the NPA said at the time.
Sodi appeared before the State Capture Commission days before his arrest, where he admitted to making large payments to several members of the ANC.