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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

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

Amid outrage surrounding the Hammanskraal cholera outbreak, Edwin Sodi's R295m Rooiwal water tender has resurfaced.

Controversial businessman Edwin Sodi has been trending for all the wrong reasons… again. This time, the tender tycoon has been drawn into the Hammanskraal cholera outbreak debacle for “irregularities” around the tender awarded to him to refurbish and upgrade the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The “blame game” for the cholera outbreak — which has so far claimed the lives of 17 people — has been in full swing.

In a statement, the Department of Water and Sanitation said that it has, throughout the years, sought to institute several enforcement actions and compliance requirements against the city to improve its water quality.

The department blamed “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”.

ALSO READ: Ekurhuleni on high alert as cholera cases rise nationally

‘Enter Edwin Sodi’: Rooiwal impacts Hammanskraal water quality

In this file photo, the dilapidated Rooiwal WasteWater Treatment Plant can be seen during a press briefing with members of the ANC around the deteriorating conditions of the waste water treatment plant on 3 May 2018. Photo: Jacques Nelles

In 2019, the City of Tshwane set aside R2 billion for the upgrade of the plant which experienced various challenges in the purification of wastewater.

These resulted in the sludge being discharged from the treatment plant into the Apies River and Leeukraal Dam, which supplies water to the Temba Water Treatment Plant, used for purifying water for in Hammanskraal and surrounding areas, north of Pretoria.

However, Phase 1 of the upgrade work, which already began in 2020, remains incomplete.

Enter Edwin Sodi and what ActionSA has labelled an “irregular and illegal tender process”.

ActionSA inquiry into tender process

In a statement issued in October 2022, ActionSA provincial chairperson Bongani Baloyi called out the Tshwane council for its failure to act on findings of the party’s forensic investigation report.

The report emanated from an ActionSA inquiry into the Hammanskraal water crisis.

“Five City of Tshwane senior officials must face criminal charges for their part in allowing this irregular and illegal tender… after a forensic report looking into the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant found that they had flouted procurement rules.

“This adds salt into the wounds of the hundreds of thousands of residents of Hammanskraal and Rooiwal who are supplied with water unsafe for human, animal or agricultural consumption,” Baloyi said in the statement.

Rooiwal forensic report fingers Sodi

The following findings are contained in the forensic report:

  • 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.

In a Newzroom Africa interview on Tuesday, 23 May, ActionSA Tshwane caucus leader Thabang Sebotsane reaffirmed Sodi’s lack of competence for the task:

“The contractor [for the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment] was grossly lacking in the competence to conduct a contract of this magnitude… This was a joint venture of three entities all belonging to one Edwin Sodi,” Sebotsane told news anchor Xoli Mngambi.

ALSO READ: Watch: Hammanskraal residents chase Tshwane mayor away over cholera outbreak

Edwin Sodi: ‘Rap sheet’ of a tenderpreneur

edwin sodi hammanskraal rooiwal wastewater treatment plant cholera
In this file photo, Edwin Sodi is seen outside the Bloemfontein High Court on 21 February 2022. Photo: Gallo Images/ Volksblad/ Mlungisi Louw

Sodi is no stranger to controversy when it comes to alleged tender corruption and fraud.

In October 2020, Sodi (in his capacity as Blackhead Consulting director), then Free State Premier Ace Magashule and 10 others were accused of corruption involving a multi-million-rand asbestos tender.

They were all charged with corruption and money laundering, as well as theft at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.

The state argued that Sodi and two companies were involved in the masterminding of alleged corruption in the R225 million asbestos audit project in the Free State and were paid R51 million before they even started the work.

ALSO READ: Trial date set for Magashule, co-accused’s R255m asbestos tender case

Luxury cars, properties seized

The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) swooped on Sodi’s vast range of properties and luxury vehicles in 2020.

The NPA seized 29 vehicles, 27 properties, 19 active accounts and household goods belonging to the tenderpreneur.

The Zondo Commission also concluded in April 2022 that Sodi made various payments through his business bank accounts to “obtain access, secure influence, and retain connections with a number of individuals at provincial and national government”.

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

Hammanskraal cholera: Tweeps target Sodi

As cholera cases continued to climb this week, netizens referred to media reports regarding Sodi’s “share” in what has seemingly proven to be a deadly delay in the upgrade of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Unsurprisingly, the tender tycoon’s lavish lifestyle, luxury cars and various girlfriends have come under fire… again.

Take a look:

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