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Johannesburg – Despite the Auditor-General finding the R255m asbestos audit contract irregular, one of three senior government officials charged with bribery, corruption and money laundering alongside ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule accepted a R10 million payment. The payment was approved to the notorious businessman Edwin Sodi’s company Blackhead Consulting by Nozipho Molikoe, the chief financial officer of the Free State Human Settlements Department.

On Thursday, she was arrested with Department Chief Engineer Thabiso Makepe and Albertus Venter, a lawyer who, during his tenure as Free State Premier, was a senior official in Magashule’s office. On Friday, Molikoe, Makepe and Venter were all granted R50 000 bail by Judge Mxolisi Saliwa. According to the charge sheet, in January 2016, after Molikoe approved it in December 2015, the department processed a R10m payment to Blackhead Consulting. The R255m contract was awarded to Sodi’s Blackhead Consultancy to inspect houses around the Free State with asbestos roofs.

Treasury regulations which have been flouted by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) are applicable to and binding on Molikoe, including efficient financial management, the enforcement of sound budgeting and budgetary control procedures, the operation of internal controls and the timely production of financial reports. Venter, when he was premier, headed the legal department in Magashule’s office, and investigators claim that he had intimate knowledge of all procurement contracts in compliance with the office’s directives.

“He was aware of the notice of possible court action against the Human Settlements Department of the Free State and subsequent court action before the Free State High Court,” the charge reads. On Thursday, she was arrested with Department Chief Engineer Thabiso Makepe and Albertus Venter, a lawyer who, during his tenure as Free State Premier, was a senior official in Magashule’s office. On Friday, Molikoe, Makepe and Venter were all granted R50 000 bail by Judge Mxolisi Saliwa.

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The NPA alleged that serious allegations were made by the applicants, the DA, concerning dishonesty, irregularity and unlawfulness in the procurement process and the appointment of Sodi and his company, the murder of businessman Igo Mpambani and his company, the dealings of Diamond Hill Trading 71, Abel Manyeki and his ORI Group, and Sello Radebe and his company Mastertrade 232.

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