Zondo recommends government seek legal opinion to recover money in Free State asbestos scandal

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Chairperson of the State Capture Inquiry, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has recommended that government seek legal opinion on how to recover over R200 million of public money allegedly wasted on the failed Free State asbestos roof eradication project.

This is amongst the recommendations contained in Part Four of the State Capture report officially handed over to the Presidency today.

Zondo found that the state did not get value for money from the project awarded to Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill Trading. Businessman Edwin Sodi is fingered as the mastermind behind the failed project which allegedly included the bribing of politicians.

Sodi is already facing charges of fraud and corruption in relation to the project.

Zondo adds that the companies made a misrepresentation to the Department of Human Settlements that it had the qualification, expertise, skills and experience necessary for the performance of the job when it had no such.

It is also against this backdrop, that Zondo further recommends that the NPA also give serious consideration to instituting a charge of corruption against Sodi.

Court case

In March, the High Court in Bloemfontein dismissed applications by suspended African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Ace Magashule and three others to have corruption charges relating to the R255-million asbestos roof contract against them dropped.

Sodi, former Human Settlements director-general Thabani Zulu and former Free State Human Settlements head Nthimotse Mokhesi argued that charges against them were premised on evidence presented before the State Capture Commission of Inquiry.

Magashule contended that charges against him were politically motivated.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has welcomed the judgment, saying it has full confidence in the strength of its case and will let the evidence speak for itself during the trial.

The pretrial hearing will start on the 10th of June.