Opposition parties welcome arrests of alleged masterminds behind Free State asbestos contract

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The Hawks have arrested six people in connection with the controversial contract.
The Hawks have arrested six people in connection with the controversial contract.
PHOTO: Felix Dlangamandla, Gallo Images, Netwerk24
  • Several opposition parties have welcomed the arrests of those implicated in connection with an unlawful asbestos contract in the Free State.
  • One of those reportedly arrested is ousted Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli.
  • The contract was worth R255 million.

The DA says the arrests in connection with an unlawful R255 million Free State asbestos contract are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Hawks on Wednesday arrested six out of seven people in connection with the controversial 2014 contract.

One of those reportedly arrested is ousted Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamleli.

 DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said the arrests were a step in the right direction.

"Those who were bribed need to be brought to book. We need to see who got paid to determine who else might be involved. I think we are also just scratching the surface.

"This syndicate had their finger literally in every pie. Former Minister Zwane's admission that he was incompetent is also very worrisome. The fish rots from its head. The corruption goes to the highest of the ruling party," she added.

READ | Free State asbestos case: Ousted Mangaung mayor among those arrested, ANC to have urgent meeting

Meanwhile, Blackhead Consulting CEO Edwin Sodi made his second appearance before the Zondo commission into allegations of state capture this week to give evidence on a handful of suspicious payments to high-profile politicians and government staffers from his company.

This included Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa, who was the ANC's spokesperson at the time.

Sodi claimed the payments were favours for friends and were not intended to secure contracts. 

The former head of the Free State human settlements department, Nthimotse Mokhesi, also testified this week that he had received more than R600 000 from Sodi's company.

Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said he had hoped the arrests and further investigation would bring those involved to book.

"We are happy that at least there are moves from the Zondo commission. Law enforcement agencies must get to those involved as we have always said they need to act against those who steal.

"This must also not be a publicity stunt, we want to see results and we want to see those involved in orange overalls. Things can't go on like this," he added.

ALSO READ | State capture: Free State official owns a house with beneficiary of 'irregular' contract

Wouter Wessels of the FF Plus said the Free State's coffers have been emptied due to corruption and state capture.

"We believe that it is not only officials that were involved with corrupt transactions, tender fraud and other malpractices with government funds should be punished, but also the politicians behind it.

"These arrests are, however, the tip of the iceberg and much stronger action would be necessary to hold the high-ranking politicians that are behind the looting of the Free State's funds.

"There are several other projects, similar to the asbestos audit, where millions of rand were squandered as a result of fraud and corruption," he added.

Wessels said projects like the Vrede Dairy investigation saw former officials of provincial departments prosecuted while high-ranking officials of the ANC were still free.

The ANC in the Free State is reportedly set to meet to deliberate on the arrests. 

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