Breaking News: Zondo guns for ministers

28 September 2020 by George Matlala

Zondo commission investigators believe controversial businessman Edwin Sodi paid senior ANC members and government officials a total of R34-million from 2013 to 2019 as his companies scored more than R2-billion in government tenders.

This information is contained in an explosive report compiled by investigators of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.

The investigators — Ettienne Lambrechts and Gerhard Swanepoel — analysed bank statements and conducted interviews with witnesses in carrying out the forensic probe. The report was submitted to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on August 3.

Among the recipients of Sodi’s largesse are Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi and Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa.

According to information investigators extracted from Blackhead Consulting (Sodi’s company bank account), Kodwa was paid R174760 in eight tranches between December 2015 and October 2017.

At the time, Kodwa was ANC national spokesperson. Nxesi got a paltry R45000 both made in March 2017 — at a time he was minister of Public Works.

The bulk of Sodi’s munificence went to key government officials in the Gauteng government. One of the main beneficiaries of the windfall was Colin Pitso, who is currently chief director for beneficiary management in the department of human settlements. Pitso scored R6,5-million, made in 13 payments between March 2014 and December 2015. At the time, Pitso was the chief of staff in the office of former Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

Former acting head of department of human settlements Bongani More was paid R7,5-million in nine instalments between July 2013 and March 2018, according to the investigators.

More was acting head of department between 2013 and 2014, the same time Sodi was contracted by the department. Pitso denied receiving the money. “I have never been contracted to perform an(y) work by the aforesaid entity,” he said. More could not be reached for comment.

The investigators noted in their report that Blackhead was heavily reliant on government contracts to stay afloat.

“Per the auditor-general payment data and payment records provided by Gauteng department of human settlements, Blackhead received payments nationally in excess of R1-billion over the 10-year period. In addition to the asbestos assessments, this possibly relates to housing and construction projects,” the report reads.

“Mr Sodi further confirmed during an interview that he has a 50% shareholding in an entity styled ‘NJR’, which assisted with emergency roof replacements in Gauteng at the end of 2013 for an amount of R70-million. Per the auditor-general payment data, ‘NJR Projects’ also received payments nationally in excess of R1-billion.”

“It is interesting to note that, per the auditor-general payment data, Blackhead’s Absa accounts received more than R1-billion payments in each of 2014 and 2015. Blackhead’s only source of income appears to be government contracts, which include the asbestos audits in Gauteng and the Free State (through the JV) that were awarded in 2014.”

The investigators found Blackhead made R100-million profit from the Gauteng asbestos audit. The contract was then controversially extended to Free State, where the company and its partner, Diamond Hill — run by slain businessman Igo Mpambani — scored a tender of over R200-million to run an asbestos audit.

Last month, the Zondo commission heard that Sodi had paid R600000 towards a Range Rover for the former director-general of the national department of human settlement, Thabane Zulu, who was involved in awarding an asbestos contract.

Zulu denied he had received benefits because of contracts, arguing that Sodi was paying off a debt to his company.

Nxesi’s spokesperson, Sabelo Mali, said: “Following your enquiry regarding the alleged two payments amounting to R45000 from Mr Sodi or a company called Blackhead, the minister investigated the matter and found that: from his bank statements, there was no payment of R45000 or a company called Blackhead.”

​But according to Zondo investigators, Blackhead Consulting paid R30000 and R15000 into two accounts for the benefit of the minister on 4 March 2017.

Sodi and Kodwa did not respond to several attempts for comment. The commission’s spokesperson, Mbuyiselo Stemela, also did not respond to written questions.

The department’s spokesperson Castro Ngobese said they did receive a request for information on Blackhead Consulting from the commission.

“We have submitted all information and documentation required by the commission and recently checked with the commission whether there is any request for information pending from the department and the response was that there is no pending request that we need to respond to,” he said.

Source: Sunday World a https://sundayworld.co.za/breaking-news/zondo-guns-for-ministers/