State Capture turns focus to Free State Asbestos Project

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Investigators of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture say officials of the Free State Human Settlements Department enjoyed the benefits of luxury cars and property accruing from money from a 2014 Asbestos Project.

The commission is focusing on probing the alleged corruption in the deal in which a joint venture by Blackhead-Diamond Hill was awarded a R255 million tender to identify and remove asbestos roofs in the province.

According to a spreadsheet prepared by Diamond Hill owner, the late Igo Mpambani and various persons were paid bribes.

“An amount of R650 000 is paid via a trust to attorneys, which is used to buy a property which it is apparent to investigators is where Mr. Mokesi lives. But the explanation of Mokesi is that, ‘no,  this is a joint business venture.’  He and Mr. Sodi became friends and they decided to invest in a property. But what is significant here is that a person who is involved in the grant of a tender of R 255 million, the accounting officer should not be involved in business with the recipient,” says commission’s evidence leader, Paul Pretorious.

Asbestos expert, Jacobus Roets, has told the commission that joint venture company Blackhead-Diamond Hill released little information to assist in the removal and eradication of asbestos in low-cost houses in the Free State.

Roets says the provincial Human Settlements Department paid the company to audit and assess the prevalence of asbestos in the province. He, however, says it simply produced an audit, just 10% of the required task, and failed to give an assessment of the problem.

“This report that they have submitted will not give you the necessary information to accurately cost for a project like that because you can’t assess the risk you don’t know; what equipment to use; how much asbestos to transport; what are the transport requirements; how long this project is going to take to remove. So, that information is definitely lacking in this report and according to me, the assessment will need to be redone.”

Below is Roets’ testimony: