Case against 7 accused in Free State asbestos fraud postponed to next year

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and two others expected to be added as co-accused

11 November 2020 - 13:01
The fraud case against businessman Edwin Sodi was postponed in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court on Wednesday.
The fraud case against businessman Edwin Sodi was postponed in the Bloemfontein magistrate's court on Wednesday.
Image: Gallo Images / Luba Lesolle

The R255m Free State asbestos corruption case has been postponed to next year.

The postponement on Wednesday comes as ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and two others were expected to be added as co-accused in the matter.

Magashule was served with a warrant of arrest on Tuesday night, which requires him to hand himself over at the Hawks offices in Bloemfontein on Friday morning. He is expected to appear at the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court shortly after.

Magashule was expected to join a long list of former government officials and businesspeople who were arrested in October regarding allegations of corruption related to the asbestos tender.

Edwin Sodi and his six co-accused are facing corruption and fraud charges related to the R255m project to remove asbestos roofs in the province. The state is seeking, so far, to recover R300m from those accused in the corruption scandal.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit last month started attaching assets belonging to Sodi and his six co-accused, who include former Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli and former Free State human settlements department head Nthimotse Mokhesi.

The seven accused were arrested last month and appeared in the Bloemfontein high court, where they were released on bail ranging from R500,000 for Sodi to R50,000 for the former Free State human settlements supply chain head Mahlomola John Matlakala.

The state descended on Sodi’s company, Blackhead Consulting, seizing assets worth millions of rand, including houses and luxury vehicles. The vehicles included:

  • a 2017 white Bentley Continental GT coupe with a book value of R3m-R5m;
  • a 2017 red Ferrari Four F151 with a book value of at least R3m; and
  • a 2019 black Porsche Cayenne S Coupe valued at just under R2m.

Additional assets worth more than R100m belonging to Sodi were later discovered in Cape Town.

The AFU said it was shocked to have discovered the assets which Sodi had failed to declare.

The state is expected to highlight this when the case returns to court on February 19 2021.

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