DA requests update from Public Protector on investigation into controversial FS Blackhead Consulting contract
19 April 2018
The DA has today written to the Office of the Public Protector in the Free State, requesting an update on the status of the investigation we requested into the controversial R255 million contract irregularly awarded to Blackhead Consulting for the auditing and assessment of asbestos roofing on houses built in the Free State prior to 1994, as part of an asbestos roofing eradication drive.
The DA reported the matter to the Public Protector in October 2015, see here. However, we met with the Office of the Public Protector in July last year, where we were informed that the Public Protector would not investigate. At that meeting we clarified certain matters, as contained in our written submission, that do deserve to be investigated and we subsequently obtained an undertaking from the Office of the Public Protector that these will be investigated.
It is now alleged that the murder of Mr Ignatius Mpambani last year in Sandton, whose company Diamond Hill Trading 71 shared the contract as part of a consortium with Blackhead Consulting, may be linked to a payment dispute between the two companies. It is alleged, as reported, that the final payment by the Free State Provincial Department of Human Settlements of R77,5 million was ultimately paid into Mr Mpambani’s personal account instead of being shared equally with Blackhead Consulting’s Mr Edwin Sodi.
The DA is extremely concerned that persons implicated in controversial contracts in the Free State, like Mr Mpambani, end up dead. Former Free State Premier Ace Magashule also alleged that the former Head of the Free State Provincial Department of Police, Roads and Transport, Mr Sandile Msibi, was poisoned. Mr Msibi was himself implicated in allegations of corruption.
There are also allegations of orchestrated witch-hunts against whistle-blowers, like with Moses Tshake, who was murdered following his attempts to raise concerns surrounding the controversial Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy Project.
Murders and witch-hunts create an environment of fear and is a successful tactic that seeks to silence persons in the pursuit to cover up the rampant looting of the state. It is therefore crucial that law enforcement agencies thoroughly investigate these matters and identify and prosecute perpetrators.
In such an environment it is also vital that state institutions, like the Office of the Public Protector, investigate matters brought to its attention diligently and expeditiously.
Issued by Leona Kleynhans, DA MPL, 19 April 2018