Hawks confirm four arrests in R255m Free State asbestos tender probe, Newsline

Johannesburg – The Hawks confirmed on Wednesday that several arrests were being made regarding the unit’s investigation into a R255 million Free State asbestos tender from 2014.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said arrests of seven individuals were being conducted in three provinces, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape.

He said the arrests were related to the Hawk’s investigation into the R255m Free Sate asbestos tender.

Speaking on eNCA on Wednesday, Mulaudzi said four people had been arrested as of midday.

Those who were to be arrested included government officials and business people.

Mulaudzi declined to reveal the names of the suspects but he did confirm that it was business people and government officials.

The suspects will appear in court in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Among those expected to be arrested, are businessman Edwin Sodi and former human settlements head of department Nthimotse Mokhesi.

The 2014 Free State asbestos tender has been widely reported on due to its prominence at the Zondo commission over the past few months.

The commission has heard evidence from several witnesses about the illegality of the tender which was awarded by the Free State department of human settlements to a joint-venture between Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill.

Evidence previously heard at the inquiry has confirmed that 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.

Edwin Sodi, the owner of Blackhead appeared at the inquiry on Tuesday, admitted that he did not reveal to the Free State government that 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 R21 million, allowing Diamond Hill and Blackhead to make a profit of around R200 million without having done any of the work.

The former head of department for human settlements in the Free State, Nthimotse Mokhesi, conceded that the department had failed in doing the proper procurement work regarding the tender.

The provincial government did not entirely get value for money, Mokhesi also conceded.

Evidence heard at the inquiry showed that the two companies were appointed through the illegal extension of a Gauteng asbestos tender which Blackhead Consulting was part of.

The commission also heard that Sodi made a “property deal” with Mokhesi which saw him paying R650,000 towards a house registered under a trust fund managed by Mokhesi.

The house was purchased just after Mokhesi gave the go-ahead in allowing the awarding of the asbestos tender to the joint-venture.

Another revelation was that Sodi had also made a R600,000 payment to a car dealership which allowed Thabane Zulu to purchase a vehicle.

Zulu was at the time the director-general at the national department of human settlements and had been instrumental in ensuring that funds were made available for the asbestos tender.

Political Bureau