Corruption in law enforcement agencies, asbestos projects in the spotlight at State Capture Commission

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The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Johannesburg will resume its hearings on Tuesday.

Last week saw former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride testify before the commission where he admitted that there may be grounds for perceptions that forensic expert Paul O’Sullivan overreached in his assistance to the directorate.

McBride was being cross-examined by counsel for police Brigadier Pharas Ncube and Major General Jan Mabula.

McBride was asked on why O’Sullivan and his associate Sarah Jane Trent were involved in the investigation into alleged corruption by Acting Former Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.

The two accompanied officers to Phahlane’s home – a move that resulted in what Mcbride says was a bogus investigation by Mabula into a threat on Phahlane’s life.

McBride says O’Sullivan was the complainant in the Phahlane corruption case but also provided capacity for the IPID

Former North West Deputy Provincial Commissioner Jan Mabula told the State Capture Commission that he needed an opinion from the NPA before investigating an alleged threat against former Acting Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.

McBride alleged in his testimony to the commission last year that Mabula sought to interfere in an investigation IPID was conducing into corruption allegations against Phahlane.

Mabula has claimed at the commission that he had been asked to conduct the investigation by the Provincial Commissioner and was simply checking with the NPA if this would be in order.

Infighting amongst law enforcement agencies

The commission also heard evidence from former North West Head of Commercial Crimes, Brigadier Pharas Ncube relating to infighting amongst law enforcement agencies.

Ncube says the investigation into whether there was a threat to former Acting Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane’s life was led by prosecutors from the National Prosecutions Authority. Ncube says the probe was sparked by a breach in security at the home of Phahlane, allegedly by Independent Police Investigations Directorate (IPID) officials.  Phahlane was being investigated at the time by IPID and the NPA was brought in to counter any perceptions of a tit-for-tat. The investigation resulted in the arrest of two IPID officials, forensic expert Paul O’Sullivan and a female associate of his on charges of impersonation, attempted extortion, fraud and intimidation.

In the video below, Brigadier Pharas Ncube testifies:

R255 million tender to audit asbestos in low cost housing

Director of Blackhead Consulting – Edwin Sodi defended his account to State Capture Commission investigators that he had no idea who could be the persons initialled in a cost of business spreadsheet related to the 2014 Free State asbestos housing project. The spreadsheet was prepared by Sodi’s partner in the Blackhead-Diamond Hill joint venture which was awarded a R255 million tender to audit asbestos in low cost housing in the province. Former Free State MEC Mxolisi Dukwana testified at the Commission last year that initials in the document are those of people – including then Free State Premier Ace Magashule and Human Settlements DG,  Thabane Zulu – who allegedly received bribes. But Sodi has told the commission in Joburg that he doesn’t want to speculate.

Sodi maintains that there was nothing underhanded about the R650 000 he put towards a house where Free State Human Settlements Head of Department Tim Mokhesi currently stays in the town of Parys. Mokhesi was instrumental in ensuring that the province’s business plan was amended to accommodate the  2014 Free State asbestos project that Blackhead together with Diamond Hill were awarded in a R255 million tender. There are claims the tender was riven with corruption and bribes. Sodi says he viewed the property as an investment.

House, car, liquor debt

One such initial was that of TZ. Sodi admitted to the Commission that he had paid R600 000 to a Durban car dealership which Former Human Settlements Director General Thabani Zulu used in purchasing a range rover. Sodi backs up Zulu’s evidence earlier this month that the money was to pay a liquor debt incurred at Zulu’s Pietermaritzburg outlet. Another initial was that of TM. In that regard Sodi testified that R650 000 towards a house in which former Free State Human Settlements department head Tim Mokhesi currently stays was an investment.

In the video below is more on the testimony:

Sodi further said he did not believe he was doing anything wrong when he failed to disclose that his company would be part of a joint venture to audit asbestos in low cost housing in the Free State. The contract to do the work was based on the transfer of a similar project from the Gauteng Human Settlements department allowed under Treasury regulations. The Gauteng entity’s permission was required for the transfer. The Gauteng Department has indicated in an affidavit to the Commission that had it known that the Free State contract did not mirror its own as required under Treasury regulations, it would not have approved the transfer. But Sodi together with Free State Human Settlements Head of Department Tim Mokhesi did not disclose to the Gauteng Department that a Blackhead- Diamond Hill joint venture would do the work.

Sodi revealed that his company made a profit of R100 million for two months’ work doing an audit of asbestos roofs on low cost houses in Gauteng. Blackhead was one of eight service providers for the project commissioned by the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements. Sodi denies overcharging the Gauteng department for his company’s services as it was the department which set the rate per house.

Sodi has offered to lay bare his financial records to the Commission and will continue his testimony at time to be determined.