LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry – September 29, 2020, Newsline

The Zondo commission resumes on Tuesday morning and will hear testimony related to a R255 million Free State asbestos tender.

Businessman Edwin Sodi is expected on the witness stand on Tuesday morning following his first appearance last month.

Sodi’s company, Blackhead Consulting, and its joint-venture partner Diamond Hill had been awarded a multimillion-rand contract by the Free State government to assess houses for asbestos in 2014.

The appointment originated from a similar contract awarded by the Gauteng department of human settlements to Blackhead Consulting.

At the time, Blackhead was one of eight companies that were appointed to assess asbestos roofing in government houses in Gauteng. The company was paid more than R200 million to assess 250 000 housing units for asbestos.

WATCH FEED HERE

The Free State department of human settlements used this panel appointment of Blackhead Consulting in Gauteng to seek an “extension” of the contract for use in the Free State.

The inquiry’s evidence leader, advocate Paul Pretorius, said correspondence by Free State department head Nthimose Mokhesi had shown that he was instrumental in lobbying the national human settlements department and the Gauteng department of human settlements to sign off on the extension.

In documents shown to Sodi last Wednesday he admitted that in the letters he wrote while lobbying for his company’s appointment in the Free State, he had omitted to state that Blackhead Consulting was going to perform the asbestos-assessment in a joint-venture with Diamond Hill.

Even Mokhesi had omitted to do so in his interactions with both the national department and the Gauteng government.

The Gauteng head of department for human settlements Margaret-Ann Diedericks confirmed in an affidavit to the commission that if she had been aware that Blackhead’s appointment, to provide an asbestos assessment to the Free State government, would be part of a joint-venture she would have never signed off a letter approving said appointment. Diedericks said joint partner Diamond Hill was not a registered vendor in Gauteng at the time which would have made the extension illegal.

Sodi’s company was paid R255 million for the Free State asbestos assessment project. The contract was later sub-contracted twice, the commission previously heard.

IOL