Sodi defends payment for a property occupied by Free State Departmental head

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Blackhead Consulting Director Edwin Sodi maintains that there was nothing underhand 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 giving evidence at the State Capture Inquiry in Johannesburg.

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 was 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.

“It was recorded in our books as an investment, in our financial books it was recorded there. The transfer was made from Liket Consulting so it was not concealed at all. If this was meant to be some underhanded payment Chair, we wouldn’t have done it the way we did, we would not have recorded it in our financial records, we wouldn’t have paid and left a paper trail. We wouldn’t have done the contracts that we did so it was a perfectly legitimate commercial transaction.”

In the video below, State Capture Inquiry (Part one): 

Sodi says it was investigators of the State Capture Commission who last year first showed him a cost of business spreadsheet allegedly detailing payments to persons related to the 2014 Free State asbestos project.
According to the testimony of former Free State MEC Mxolisi Dukwana who testified at the Commission last year, the spreadsheet denotes the initials of a number of officials Blackhead allegedly paid bribes including – AM for Free State Premier Ace Magashule, TZ for the former Director-General of Human Settlements and TM for Head of Department Tim Mokhesi.

Sodi frequently raised the eyebrows of State Capture Commission Chair Judge Zondo and evidence leader Paul Pretorious. One instance was when he said he told investigators that he never opened the email with the infamous spreadsheet his late partner, Igo Mpambani compiled relating to the 2014 Free State asbestos project.

“I acknowledged that there was a spreadsheet that we discussed the contents of what ultimately came out is different to what we agreed. I also acknowledged that there was a spreadsheet that was emailed to me but further to that I also acknowledged that I should have with the benefit of hindsight. I should have opened the spreadsheet and interrogated it because had I done that I would have been able to say hang on this is not what we discussed, there seems to be other entries on this spreadsheet which I am not aware of.”

In the video below, State Capture Inquiry (Part two): 

Pretorious was unconvinced despite Sodi’s insistence.

“I would suggest to you Mr. Sodi that it is improbable that the very document that contains the income, your expenses and your profits would not be scrutinized by you chair. I have already stated that before Mr. Mpambani put those figures that we had already discussed on the spreadsheet, that conversation had already taken place prior to him producing on paper on a spreadsheet it was not something that was unknown to me.”

Sodi defended his telling State Commission investigators that he had no idea who could be the persons initialed in the spreadsheet.

“I did not want to speculate on the initials. I think Chair you would understand that that would have been a grave mistake because if I speculate on initials and it turns out that the speculation is incorrect, I would have misled the commission. I would have given them incorrect information more so because I was not involved in putting it together so it would have been difficult if it was the full name. I would have said definitely this name refers to this person but it initials.”

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.

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