Johannesburg – The Zondo commission will continue its probe into the Free State provincial government’s handling of an asbestos tender which was irregularly approved.
The former head of the department of human settlements in the Free State Nthimose Mokhesi will take the stand on Friday morning.
Businessman Edward Sodi took the stand at the Zondo commission regarding the asbestos tender.
Sodi’s company Blackhead Consulting and its joint-venture partner Diamond Hill had been awarded a multi-million contract by the Free State government to assess houses for asbestos in 2014.
The origins of the appointment had 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 over R200 million to assess 250 000 housing units for asbestos.
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 on Wednesday he admitted that 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 asbestosassessment 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 Blackhead’s appointment.
Diedericks said the 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 R250 million for the Free State asbestos assessment project. The contract was later sub-contracted twice, the commission previously heard.
Sodi also faced questions regarding his company being paid over about R200 million for asbestos assessment of houses in Gauteng in 2013. The company made a profit of R100 million.