Johannesburg – The DA in Joburg said it wants Mayor Geoff Makhubo to investigate how the City awarded R44m tender to Edwin Sodi’s Blackheath Consultants.
This comes after the party said it had uncovered that Sodi’s company scored the multimillion rand tender with the City’s Department of Housing to conduct conditional assessments for hostels in the City “which are all in a dire state despite hundreds of millions being spent on them”.
Sodi and Blackhead Consulting Firm are implicated in the R255m fraud and corruption case related to the Free State asbestos removal tender project.
Allegations are that the contract was awarded to his company through an allegedly illegal unsolicited bid, before millions of rands were channelled to political heavyweights and top officials who were involved in the contract.
The State contends the work was never done and the government funds were wasted in the process.
Sodi was arrested with six others over the matter last year and properties and vehicles registered under him and Blackhead Consultants were seized.
Before his arrest, Sodi had appeared at the Zondo Commission. There, he said he had given money to ANC officials in Gauteng, including former Human Settlements MEC Paul Mashatile, and the former HoD of the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements Thabane Zulu to buy a Range Rover.
Leah Knott, the DA’s Caucus Leader in the City said they want Makhubo to immediately suspend the contract and conduct a full forensic investigation into how it was awarded.
“ANC cadres were clearly involved in setting up and awarding this contract,” she said.
“Clearly housing is an area used by the ANC to channel state funds to the party. Suspicions must also be cast on the IFP, given that they run the housing portfolio in the City,” she said.
“The contract was entered into in June 2020 and yet Blackhead has only assessed three hostel and produced weak conclusions like “the majority of the structures need to be demolished and re-built” and “water supply is an issue”.
“If this has been their progress to date then it is unclear how they will finish by the time the contract ends in June 2021. It is also unclear how much has been paid to Blackhead to date.
“R44 million is a ridiculous amount to pay for conditional assessments, and this contract should never have been awarded to such a corrupt company,” Knott said.
The City’s Nthatisi Modigoane confirmed that Sodi’s company was given the R44m tender to do a building condition assessment on 10 hostels to determine the extent of the damage on them, the required works and potential financial implication thereof.
However, at the time of the tender was awarded, there was no confirmed or unconfirmed indications that the service provider was at the time charged or an accused on any matter before the Court, Modingoane said.
“Accordingly, in the absence of such indications, Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) had to proceed and implement its supply chain management processes.
“The service provider remains an accused on matters before the Courts and this creates a challenge for Joshco to implement termination on this relationship.”
According to Modingoane, the City has not paid Blackhead a cent despite the fact that they have already done work on four of the hostels.
In fact, they’re trying to terminate the contract, he said.
“Noting the allegations that came to light, Joshco has engaged with a Senior Counsel on a process with a view to find a way of terminating such a contractual arrangement with the service provider.
“However, noting that they are only “Accused” on a matter that is in Court, nothing much can be done, unless they are found guilty.
“Another remedy would be that, if there is a Declaratory Order to terminate all financial transactions that Blackhead may be having with the State and its Entities,” Modingoane said.
Last month, IOL reported how City of Joburg spent millions building hostels in Soweto but 10 years later no one had moved into them and they were vandalised.