Edwin Sodi and Nthimotse Mokhesi to be arrested over asbestos tender irregularities, Newsline

Johannesburg – Controversial businessman Edwin Sodi and former human settlements head of department Nthimotse Mokhesi are set to be arrested by the members of the Hawks on Wednesday.

The Star has been reliably informed that Sodi, who received a multimillion rand contract with the Free State provincial government, had close contact with Mokhesi, a former official at the Free State Department of Human Settlements.

They are expected to be arrested on Wednesday regarding an asbestos tender worth over R250m.

The tender was awarded to a joint-venture between Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill Investments.

Blackhead Consulting is owned by Sodi.

Diamond Hill was owned by businessman Ignatius Mpambani, who was shot dead in Sandton, three years ago.

The awarding of the contract has been deemed questionable.

The Star has seen a warrant of arrest for the two.

According to sources inside the Hawks, Sodi will be arrested around 1pm at his home.

Attempts to get comment from Sodi and Mokhesi were not successful.

Speaking at the State Capture Commission on Tuesday, Sodi moved to defend several payments his company had made to ANC and government officials over the years while it continued to be awarded government contracts worth millions.

Evidence previously heard at the inquiry confirmed the tender was awarded to the Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill joint-venture without proper procurement processes being followed. Diamond Hill was owned by now-deceased businessman Ignatius Mpambani, who was shot dead in Sandton in 2017.

Sodi admitted he did not reveal to the Free State government his company had no certification to remove asbestos.

Another omission was that the contract would be sub-contracted twice and the second contractor performed the job for R21m, allowing Diamond Hill and Blackhead to make a profit of around R200m without having done any of the work.

Mokhesi conceded the department had failed in doing the proper procurement work regarding the tender, and that the provincial government did not entirely get value for money.

Sodi was on Tuesday confronted with his company’s bank statements which revealed dozens of payments to ANC and government officials, including deputy minister of state security Zizi Kodwa, who received R171 000 and deputy minister of communications Pinky Kekana.

Other payments include R3.6m for ANC T-shirts and R6.5m paid to the ANC with reference to Zweli Mkhize, who served as its treasurer general.

Another payment was made to the ANC, with reference to Paul Mashatile – the current ANC treasurer-general.

Sodi had also paid R7.5m to a Bongani More, a former DG for the Gauteng department of human settlements. He said More was his business partner.

A payment of R6.5m was also made to Collins Pitso, a former chief of staff to former environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane. Sodi said he was in a property business deal with Pitso’s father.

The payments were made between 2013 and 2019 when Sodi’s company had been awarded various tenders, mainly from the Department of Human Settlements.

Sodi’s company had at one point in 2015, made over R1bn in turnover mainly from human settlements contracts.

Sodi said a large amount of money from the government was unsurprising because his company did various business with the government.

“Zizi is a friend I have made payments to him while he still worked at the ANC. It was payments I made as a friend where he requested assistance. He would say there are delays in payments and he would ask for assistance,” Sodi explained.

Pretorius put it to Sodi that such payments, and the fact that some of the contracts he entered into without proper processes being followed, could raise the perception of the deals being described as kickbacks.

Sodi denied the perception of “kickbacks”, saying he had always been a supporter of the ANC and was simply giving back to the organisation.

“I do not have much of a comment there. I have stated that I grew up supporting the ruling party. I continue to support the ANC. When the requests come, that they owe a service provider and am I able to assist? That continues to happen even now. I grew up in the movement. The fact that there would have been donations from myself or my entities I do not see that as strange, fraudulent or corrupt,” Sodi said..

The Star