UPDATE: Sodi among suspects to be arrested over FS asbestos project

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said that other suspects were being arrested in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

Hawks members arrest a suspect on 30 September 2020 in a case related to a R255m asbestos removal project in Free State. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Businessman Edwin Sodi, who appeared at the state capture commission on Tuesday, is among suspects to be arrested for the R255 million Free State asbestos project.

The Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) have arrested two suspects in the Free State already, and a total of seven suspects will be arrested.

One suspect in Centurion fled before the units arrived and another one in KwaZulu-Natal is on the run.

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said that other suspects were being arrested in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.

"We have arrested five suspects of the seven we have identified. We're also expecting to finalise this operation today, irrespective of the setback with the other two not being arrested. The suspects will be appearing in Bloemfontein on Friday."

Sodi told the state capture commission in August that his company didn’t have the expertise or accreditation to handle hazardous material. The director of Blackhead, a company that was appointed to audit asbestos houses in the Free State for R255 million, said he knew that no bidding process was done for the contract.

Sodi on Monday confirmed at the commission that his company received contracts in excess of R1 billion over 10 years and paid millions in that to housing and African National Congress (ANC) officials in various provinces but he denied that they were kickbacks.

The ANC’s secretary-general and former Free State premier, Ace Magashule, is among people who allegedly scored between R1 million and R10 million each from the Blackhead-Diamond Hill JV deal.

The commission has heard that blackhead clinched a R255 million contract, subcontracted Mastertrade for R51 million and walked away with R200 million for doing nothing.

Mastertrade subcontracted the ORI Group for R24 million and walked away with R26 million for doing nothing.

Blackhead director Edwin Sodi said his partner, Ignatius Mpambani, who was gunned down in Sandton in 2017, negotiated the asbestos contract in the Free State.

Sodi initially said he didn’t believe it was wrong to bid for the work but eventually conceded that the company shouldn’t have offered its services.

The commission still has to hear from witnesses who made payments recorded by initials that include “AM” believed to be Magashule.

Download the EWN app to your iOS or Android device.