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Asbestos scam fugitive hands himself over as Hawks deliver ultimatum

All seven suspects now in custody

01 October 2020 - 15:30 By orrin singh
The Hawks have arrested seven people alleged to be masterminds behind a corrupt audit of asbestos roofs.
The Hawks have arrested seven people alleged to be masterminds behind a corrupt audit of asbestos roofs.
Image: Supplied

After more than 24 hours evading arrest, a KwaZulu-Natal businessman is now in custody for his alleged masterminding of a R200m asbestos audit project in the Free State.

It means that all seven people alleged to be involved in the controversial project — which has been the subject of testimony at the state capture commission — are in custody before a court appearance on Friday.

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The man, whose identity is known to TimesLIVE but who cannot be named until he has appeared in court, handed himself over to authorities shortly after midday on Thursday. Hawks spokesperson Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi said the former government employee had been given an ultimatum and presented himself to police.

“We gave him an ultimatum and he handed himself over around midday. He will appear with the other six in Bloemfontein on Friday,” said Mulaudzi.

The man, recently appointed to a senior official role at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone, previously held senior positions at the departments of trade & industry and energy.

Among the seven arrested are three senior government officials and three businessmen. The accused face 60 charges which include corruption, fraud, money laundering, contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca), as well as contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

The arrests follow a R255m tender the Free State department of human settlements awarded in 2014 to audit and assess households in the province with asbestos roofing. The tender was awarded to Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill Trading. The joint venture later subcontracted Mastertrade 232 to do the audit. Mastertrade, in turn, subcontracted ORI Group to do the audit and assessment for R21.3m.

Diamond Hill Trading was owned by businessman Ignatius “Igo” Mpambani, who was murdered in broad daylight while driving down Sandton’s Bowling Avenue in a Bentley.