Court grants bail to FS asbestos project corruption suspects

The group, made up of government officials and business owners including the director of inexperienced company Blackhead, was paid money for work that never materialised.

FILE: Seven suspects accused of multi-million rand tender corruption appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court on 2 October 2020. The accused, who face around 60 charges, are alleged to have fraudulently been awarded a R255 million contract to audit and remove asbestos roofs in the Free State. Picture:  Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN

BLOEMFONTEIN - The seven accused in the R255 million asbestos saga have been granted bail ranging from R50,000 to R500,000.

The Bloemfontein Magistrates Court has also ordered the accused to surrender their passports.

The seven include Blackhead director Edwin Sodi, Free State Housing HOD Nthimotse Mokhesi and supply chain officer Mahlomola Matlakala.

Former Human Settlements DG Thabane Zulu, ousted Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli, Sello Radebe and Abel Monyeki make up the rest of the accused.

Earlier, the NPA said that it was looking to press further charges against one of the seven suspects for attempting to bribe an official while in police custody.

The seven face around 60 charges in connection with an asbestos removal tender in the Free State where they allegedly pocketed millions of rands.

The NPA's Sipho Ngwema said that the next step was asset forfeiture.

"Those who have committed crime have to pay, that is why asset forfeiture is very important, that we go and take the profits out of the actions of these people that have committed crime. The operation now is to take the assets of those people who are involved in crime so that the message is simple and clear: crime doesn't pay."

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