SOWETAN | Time Sodi is really held liable
This past weekend, tenderprenuer Edwin Sodi celebrated his 50th birthday, displaying the kind of opulence synonymous with his glitzy, unearned lifestyle.
On Monday, it emerged President Cyril Ramaphosa had signed a proclamation to have the Special Investigative Unit probe the failed R292m Tshwane Rooiwal water treatment works contract.
The contract was awarded, albeit irregularly, to a joint venture between Sodi’s two companies as well as their partner CMS Water Engineering.
Like many of Sodi’s contracted work, it was left incomplete, a state for which Sodi conveniently blames his partner, who has since died.
The management of the project is arguably one of the most despicable acts of malfeasance in the post democratic era.
This is not so much because of the money wasted on it relative to other acts of looting. It is because ultimately, had the project been delivered on, it would have potentially saved the lives of 29 people in Hammanskraal who died from cholera because of poor water quality in the area.
The city of Tshwane has told this publication it would meet with its lawyers to discuss its plan to ban Sodi from doing business with the city and, hopefully, the national treasury.
Beyond Sodi’s unrelated criminal trial, these are encouraging signs of some legal accountability for his involvement in the failed water project.
However, when considering that Sodi has, for the last number of years, been implicated in numerous state projects that have either not taken off at all or were never completed, it is reasonable to hold a level of scepticism about whether these will ultimately result in accountability on his part.
Sure, the SIU may well find that evidence of corruption and maladministration involved, both in the awarding of the tender and its failed execution.
The most it will do is to attach properties amounting to the losses incurred by the taxpayer.
It will then be up to our prosecution authority to take criminal action against Sodi and his accomplices, should there be enough evidence to do so.
This unfortunately is where investigations and cases such as Sodi’s appear to stall or fail completely, notwithstanding the usual pomp and ceremony often characterising arrests of such politically connected figures.
While the investigation by the SIU is most welcome, the level of accountability does not stop with it.
Its ultimate test is a successful prosecution.
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