‘I did not get any money’ from asbestos project – former DG tells state capture inquiry

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.


Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

  • Former director-general Thabane Zulu says he has not received money from the Free State asbestos project.  
  • Zulu was testifying at the state capture inquiry. 
  • A joint venture between two engineering consultancy firms scored the contract in 2014.

Former director-general (DG) in the Department of Human Settlements, Thabane Zulu, has denied receiving R10 million from the Free State asbestos eradication project.

“As I am sitting here, in this commission, I still deny, chair. I did not get any money of R10 million as appearing on the spreadsheet of [former economic development MEC Mxolisi] Dukwana as a beneficiary… I did not get any money as it appears on the spreadsheet as a beneficiary,” he said. 

Zulu was testifying at the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture on Thursday.  

READ | Zondo dismisses Thabane Zulu’s postponement application

This week, the commission is focusing on the R255 million asbestos audit project in the Free State.

A joint venture between engineering consultancy firms – Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill Trading 71 – scored the contract in 2014.

Dukwana previously told the commission that former premier Ace Magashule had received R10 million for helping to facilitate the project.

He then presented a spreadsheet, termed “cost of business” schedule.

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According to him, the amount reflected on the schedule was paid as gratification in relation to the contract.

During Thursday’s proceedings, evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius said the commission was not “putting it to [Zulu] that he is a recipient of R10 million”.

‘Different’

“What we are putting to you is entirely different,” Pretorius said.

But Zulu insisted that he would not be testifying, had it not been for allegations made by Dukwana. Zulu has, however, admitted that Blackhead Consulting director Edwin Sodi paid R600 000 to SMD trading group CC. 

The money was used by Zulu to purchase a Range Rover. The information was uncovered by investigators of the commission. 

Zulu told the inquiry that Sodi owed him for products and services, and this was “above board”.  

Zulu said he has a business in Pietermaritzburg, called TZ Lounge, which deals with events, catering and also sells liquor.

He said Sodi would sometimes place orders in order to entertain his guests.

He said he delivered liquor to Sodi over a period of time in 2015. The arrangement was that Sodi would make a payment at a later stage.

He said Sodi made the payment to the dealership on his instructions. 

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However, Pretorius probed further, saying the way the money was paid to Zulu was so that none of the payments would reflect in his bank account. 

Bank accounts

In response, Zulu said no one had asked him for his bank accounts. 

“People just went into my bank account… this is one of the reasons, chair, that to some extent I did not appreciate the way investigators have dealt with me. I offered to provide all information in my first affidavit. I offered for my own bank statements to be made available.”   

Pretorius also read parts of Sodi’s affidavit, saying: “I have not in my personal capacity, nor has Blackhead, made any payment to the personal accounts of any government official. That may be correct. In so far as you are a government official, he hasn’t made any payment to your personal account, but he has made payment to you through a payment to SMD Motors.”

He said his point was that the construction of the transaction to the dealership ensured the money did not appear in Zulu’s personal bank account. And that is why Sodi is saying that he had not made any payment to a government official’s personal account.  

On Friday, the commission will continue to hear evidence relating to allegations of corruption at the Free State provincial government from director at ORI Group Pty Ltd, Abel Kgotso Manyike, and BlackHead Consulting director, Sodi. 

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