NATHANIEL LEE | Scandalous Sodi is still enjoying freedom to splurge ill-gotten wealth

Snag with ANC tenderpreneur is he never finishes projects he gets paid for

Tenderprenuer Edwin Sodi. File photo.
Tenderprenuer Edwin Sodi. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle

Some years ago, I encountered a poster which read: “If you are a man and not handsome at 20, strong at 30, wise at 40 and rich at 50, forget it, you will never make it. Wha ta waste of life.”

While this poster was meant to be light-hearted, one Edwin Sodi must have read it and taken it to heart. Sodi is the ANC-affiliated tenderpreneur who has scored in excess of R1bn from government tenders. He currently faces several charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering, alongside former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule for their role in the botched R255m Free State asbestos removal project.

He is also linked to other controversial projects including the Rooiwal waste water treatment plant which was awarded in 2019 to the value of R290m. To date, little or no work has been done on the project. The failed project is possibly linked to the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal which claimed the lives of 31 people.

President Cyril Ramaphosa last week signed a proclamation for the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to probe the Rooiwal waste water treatment plant. Sodi’s company, Black head Consulting, faces a second probe by the SIU that it should not have been awarded a R255m contract to audit and assess asbestos houses in the Free State.

Of the 300,000 houses earmarked for the project, only 30,000 were audited. At the Zondo commission, Sodi conceded that his company did not have the skills and accreditation to handle asbestos. Between 2013 and 2019, Sodi has splashed cash on ANC luminaries, making payments to among others Zweli Mkhize, Thulas Nxesi, Zizi Kodwa and Paul Mashatile.

He also donated R3.5m to the ANC. Recently, Sodi hosted a lavish 50th birthday celebration at his R85m mansion in Bryanston, Joburg. According to financial educator Robert Kiyosaki, there is no shame in wanting to be rich.

“More wealth means more freedom, and no one can be blamed for wanting freedom,” he says.

The only snag with Sodi is that he never finishes the projects he starts and gets paid for them. Recently, it has emerged that the Gauteng governmen thas spent R27m on reports to build a primary school in Ekurhuleni. Blackhead Consulting received R4m with no tender issued to initiate the building of the school as the land chosen does not belong to the Gauteng government.

Five years later, no school has been built. It has also surfaced that the tender to build the school had not been advertised. Sodi, with his reputation for non-delivery, had been appointed project manager for other school construction projects in Gauteng to the value of R517m.

After a visit to the site, DA member of the provincial legislature Khume Ramulifho saw no sign of construction. He expressed concern about the R27m already paid. Meanwhile, the community of Etwatwa ,Benoni, has been up in arms in protests over the years, burning the prefab classrooms on site, demanding a school they have been promised since 1996.

The school has about 1,300 pupils and 55 mobile classrooms. It is scandalous that Sodi is still enjoying freedom to splurge his ill-gotten wealth. For his role in depriving disadvantaged children to pursue their dreams of a better life, Sodi joins Sadtu as saboteurs of the education of the black child in particular.

Despite all his wealth, the law will catch up with Sodi and history will judge him harsh ly. History will also not be kind to the ANC for betraying the hopes and aspirations of the long-suffering masses by spawning villains such as Sodi.

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