7 suspects arrested in FS asbestos corruption case set to apply for bail

The group is made up of government officials and business owners, including the director of Blackhead, the inexperienced company that was paid R255 million for work that never materialised.

Hawks members escort one of the seven suspects identified for arrest on 30 September 2020 in a case related to a R255m asbestos removal project in Free State. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Seven suspects arrested in connection with the Free State asbestos project are expected to appear in court in Bloemfontein on Friday morning.

The group is made up of government officials and business owners, including the director of Blackhead, the inexperienced company that was paid R255 million for work that never materialised.

Edwin Sodi told the state capture commission that it was common for companies that did not have expertise to apply for work and then give that work to other companies.

So his company, Blackhead, was paid R255 million to audit and remove asbestos but he always knew that the firm would merely “manage” the project.

It made R200 million, while the company that eventually did the audit was paid R21 million.

Corruption, money laundering and theft are some of the charges faced by the seven suspects arrested this week.

The first six suspects were arrested on Wednesday and the remaining suspect handed himself over to police in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.

They’re expected to apply for bail and the Hawks had warned that the longer it took for them to be apprehended the more difficult it would be to secure their freedom.

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