“Whether you receive an amount of money for yourself or for others, it still qualifies as an offence in terms of the legislature”.
This is according to the head of the legal team at the Zondo commission of inquiry, advocate Paul Pretorius SC, who spent most of Tuesday morning detailing in a lengthy opening statement what the commission is set to hear relating to alleged corruption in the Free State.
Centre stage was a R255 million asbestos audit project in the province.
A joint venture between engineering consultancy firm Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill Trading 71 scored the contract in 2014.
Former economic development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana previously told the commission former premier Ace Magashule had received R10 million for helping to facilitate the project.
Dukwana then presented a spreadsheet from the company that was awarded the asbestos audit project which was termed “cost of business” schedule.
According to him, the amount reflected on the schedule was paid as gratification in relation to the contract.
Several initials or names in the schedule were noted as TZ, TM, AM, OM, MEC, MZ, Steve, JT and Diedericks.
Pretorius said investigators were tasked to probe the allegations following Dukwana’s testimony.
On the initials AM, Pretorius said: “We know the former premier’s initials were AM, Mr Magashule, and we know there has been evidence of certain payment made to his office for present purpose but the legislation is clear, whether you receive an amount of money for yourself or for others it still qualifies as an offence in terms of the legislature.
“The legislation is quite clear that whether you receive the benefit and the gratification for yourself or on behalf of others, students studying, it falls foul of the legislation and no doubt the law enforcement agencies will pay close attention to that in due course.
“That evidence had been traversed already but its implications in terms of the legislation need further details from you”.
Pretorius said Blackhead Consulting’s owner, Edwin Sodi, was interviewed and had given much of the evidence.
He added Sodi had acknowledged the document and it was prepared on his computer, however, he would not speculate on the initials.
Pretorius said there were several financial transactions investigated by commission investigators in relation to the initials TZ, allegedly Thabane Zulu, a former government director-general.
“There is no evidence at present available to the commission of a single amount of R10 million being paid”.
He added some amounts were traced from bank accounts of Blackhead and Sodi to a motor dealer in Pietermaritzburg.
The first payment made reflected in the accounts of Blackhead to a TZ.
“The initials TZ were identified and that payment was recorded on the receiving end of the motor dealer in Pietermaritzburg as Mr Zulu”.
Pretorius said the money was used to buy a Maserati for a Mr Ntuli.
He added Sodi had paid an amount of R600 000 to the dealership and it again reflected on the recipient’s side as TZ.
The amount was used as a deposit for a Range Rover bought by Zulu, said Pretorius.
The explanation was that Zulu owns an entertainment lounge.
Pretorius also mentioned a payment made to T Mokhesi for the purchase of a property.
T Mokhesi, believed to be represented by the initial TM, is alleged to be Nthimotse “Tim” Mokhesi, the former head of department of the Free State human settlements department, who signed off on the asbestos contract.
“So, an amount of R650 000 is paid via a trust through attorneys which is used to buy a property in which, according to investigators, it is where Mokhesi lives but the explanation of Mokhesi says this was a joint business venture [and] he and Sodi became friends and decided to invest in a property and there is an agreement which shows how the income from rentals should be divided and whether this is all genuine or not can investigated.
“But what is interesting is that a person involved in grant of a tender of R250 million, the accounting officer cannot be in business with the recipient.
“Because it allows for all sorts of benefits like this and certainly this is a benefit,” Pretorius said.