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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

R295m Rooiwal tender: Edwin Sodi and Tshwane metro to face SIU scrutiny

President Cyril Ramaphosa has given the nod for an investigation into the Rooiwal tender contract of politically connected businessman Edwin Sodi.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has finally been given the green light by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate the R295-million Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant tender linked to state capture-accused businessman Edwin Sodi.

The proclamation was gazetted on Friday, three years after the City of Tshwane awarded the Rooiwal Wastewater tender to a joint venture between three of Sodi’s companies: CMS Water, NJR Projects and Blackhead Consulting. 

SIU probe into Rooiwal tender

Ramaphosa signed the proclamation on 12 September, which directs the SIU to investigate the tender, businesses linked to it and municipal officials involved in its awarding. The investigation will stretch back as far as January 2018.

The terms of reference for the SIU are to investigate serious maladministration concerning the municipality’s affairs, improper and unlawful conduct by officials and employees, and illegal public money or property expenditure. 

The SIU will also be expected to recover losses suffered by the municipality from the businesses that were awarded the tender.

A site visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the Rooiwal Water Care Works in Hammanskraal, 8 June 2023.. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
President Cyril Ramaphosa, third from left, visits the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant, in Hammanskraal, on 8 June. Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink and Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu are pictured on his right. Picture: Neil McCartney/ The Citizen

Hammanskraal cholera outbreak

In May, the Hammanskraal cholera outbreak, which killed 23 people, thrust Sodi’s failure to deliver on his R295-million tender contract to upgrade and refurbish Rooiwal’s ageing infrastructure into the spotlight.

The Department of Water and Sanitation found “the failure of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works to meet the desirable final effluent quality for discharge to the Apies River, which in turn, flows into the Leeukraal Dam”, played a critical role in the Hammanskraal water crisis.

ALSO READ: Clifton capture? Probe into ‘friends with benefits’ claims against Paul Mashatile

Rooiwal forensic report implicates Sodi

The following findings are contained in a 2022 forensic report by the political party ActionSA:

  • The tender, amounting to R295 million, was awarded to companies belonging to Edwin Sodi for the upgrade of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • Neither of the companies in the joint venture had any experience in this kind of project.
  • The joint venture did not have the required funds for the site establishment. The City of Tshwane paid R1 million upfront to float the costs of site establishment.
  • The joint venture, in contravention of the supply chain policies of the City of Tshwane, had to cede R71 million upfront because it lacked the resources for the initial capital outlay.
  • When the adjudication committee cancelled the tender award, the City of Tshwane inexplicably did not defend its decision in the legal proceedings brought by the joint venture.

ALSO READ: Hammanskraal cholera: Edwin Sodi’s R295m Rooiwal tender… where did the money go?

Tshwane mayor welcomes SIU probe

Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink has welcomed the SIU investigation into the refurbishment and upgrade project of which only 60% of the first phase was completed before it was abandoned in 2020. 

“This is exactly what the Tshwane Metro asked for, and it will help us fight to clean up the city’s tender system. This will also help with possible recovery of money,” Brink told Jacaranda FM.

Brink had already instructed the companies awarded the tender, including Blackhead Consulting, be blacklisted from doing business with the City.

Noose tightening around Sodi’s neck?

The noose appears to be tightening around the neck of Sodi, who celebrated his 50th birthday party at a lavish party on Sunday at his R100-million Bryanston mega-mansion.

Edwin Sodi and his wife, Nokukhanya Zulu, strike a pose during his 50th birthday bash at his Bryanston mansion on Sunday. Photo: Instagram @NokukhanyaZulu

This after a litany of claims regarding several failed tender projects have surfaced over the past few months.

Take a look at some of the allegations against Sodi …

Barcelona primary school

According to the Sowetan, Sodi’s Blackhead Consulting was appointed in 2018 as a consultant and overall project manager for the construction of the Barcelona primary school, in Etwatwa, on the East Rand.

Five years later, not a single classroom has been built.

According to a 2020 response in the provincial legislature, the R10.8-million contract was awarded to Sodi in July 2018. He was paid R1.8 million by 2020 and it is unclear how much he has received to date.

Free State prison

In 2019, Sodi’s company NJR Projects was awarded a R282-million contract to upgrade and extend the 65-bed Parys Correctional Services, in the Free State, to a 240-bed facility.

The planned completion was initially set for May last year. However, this date was revised to 3 May 2023 after delays allegedly caused by NJR Projects’ cash flow issues and wage disputes.

Department of Correctional Services spokesperson Logan Maistry told the Sowetan the proposed new date for completion is now March 2025. The Development Bank of Southern Africa said it was in the process of finding another contractor to complete the project.

Ace Magashule and the asbestos tender

Then there is the high-profile R225-million asbestos tender fraud case, which involves Sodi and former Free State premier and African Congress for Transformation (ACT) leader Ace Magashule and 10 others. They are on trial at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on charges of corruption, money laundering and theft.

The state has argued that Sodi and two companies were involved in the masterminding of alleged corruption in the multimillion-rand asbestos audit project in the Free State and were paid R51 million before they even started the work.

The trial is set from 15 April to 23 June 2024. It has been on pre-trial roll for two years.

ALSO READ: Asbestos case: Attempt by Magashule and Sodi to quash prosecution dismissed

Sodi celebrates 50th birthday in seized Bryanston mega-mansion

Sodi, however, held opulent birthday party celebrations marked by a display of fireworks at his seized Bryanston mansion over the weekend.

Some of his high-profile guests included the likes of ANC provincial secretary TK Nciza, Human Settlements and Infrastructure Development MEC Lebogang Maile and Kaizer Chiefs boss Bobby Motaung.

The property forms part of the assets worth R300 million frozen by the Assets Forfeiture Unit (AFU) in 2020 pending the outcome of the much-delayed asbestos tender fraud case.

At the time, the NPA seized 29 vehicles, 27 properties, 19 active accounts and household goods belonging to Sodi as Blackhead Consulting director.

Edwin Sodi is still living it up in his R100m Bryanston mega-mansion. Photos: Instagram

In reaction to the widespread outcry on social media regarding Sodi’s Bryanston birthday bash, NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said the house, along with other properties owned by the controversial businessman, would only be forfeited to the state should Sodi be convicted.

“The wife was occupying the house, in agreement with curators. We have put caveats on properties on condition that they can occupy the houses and insure them but not sell them. All immovable properties are paid up. We have a R300m restraint order in place pending the finalisation of the criminal case. In essence, all restrained properties can only be forfeited to the state after conviction.”

NOW READ: PICS: Inside Edwin Sodi’s lavish 50th birthday party celebrations

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