Pretoria – Businessman Edwin Sodi’s company was not competent nor did it have the capacity to handle the R295m upgrade on the Rooiwal water treatment plant which has now been allegedly abandoned after the project started in October 2019.
An independent commission of inquiry into the Hammanskraal water crisis, which was appointed by ActionSA in 2021, found that funds which were set aside for the upgrade of the Rooiwal water treatment plant, were missing.
The failure of the project has contributed to the long standing water issues in the Hammanskraal township which has now escalated a cholera crisis claiming 15 lives and leading to over 50 people being hospitalized.
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika on Tuesday, ActionSA’s councillor Thabang Sebotsane said the contractor who was responsible for refurbishing the Rooiwal water treatment plant was grossly lacking in the competence to conduct a contract of such magnitude.
“What brought this contract to our attention is the fact that this contractor had (previously) failed in one contract that was afforded to him by the government in another province and we really got shocked that while he was still in court over the failure of his previous contract, the City awarded him a contract of this nature and magnitude.
“… The contractor didn’t just lack the capacity, he also didnt have the money to commence this contract… The City paid for site establishment, this is one of that contraventions of the City’s supply chain management… About R71m was an upfront fee because he lacked resources.
“This was a joint venture of three entities all belonging to Edwin Sodi whose experience and name was never found in contractors who could accomplish this kind of work,” said Sebotsane.
In July 2022, ActionSA asked the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to include the Hammanskraal Water Report in its investigation of irregularities.
It is unclear if this was done.
Former ActionSA provincial chairperson Bongani Baloyi handed in the report emanating from the inquiry which investigated the water woes that gripped the township.
Part of the findings in the report was that the process of awarding the tender was manifestly deficient in that the recipient was an amateur contractor and quoted a price much higher than other better qualified and more experienced bidders.
Sodi has also been implicated in the R255m failed asbestos project in the Free State.
IOL’s efforts to obtain comment from Sodi were unsuccessful as his cellphone number was out-of-service.
Meanwhile, DA’s councillor Jacqui Uys said they were yet to pinpoint the exact source of the current cholera outbreak.
Even though the party has been leading the metro since 2016, Uys blamed the ANC for closing the Temba Water Purification Plant in August 2011 saying it was a significant setback on the deteriorating water quality.
“Upon transitioning from the ANC to the mayoralty of Solly Msimanga, under a DA-led coalition, we found water quality in Hammanskraal to be alarmingly compromised... Despite these inherited challenges, the multi-party coalition government has been proactive in addressing the water crisis,” she said.
Uys added that in November 2022, the DA raised challenges on Rooiwal water treatment plant with the national government that the City would require assistance as the work needed at these facilities would come at a significant cost, which was beyond the capacity of the metro’s budget.
“Despite these efforts by DA members of the City of Tshwane executive, no adequate follow-up ever came from the ANC National government on this vital matter,” she said.
In response to the DA, the ANC said it was outraged not only because cholera was a preventable disease, but because the DA administration trampled on the dignity of the people of Hammanskraal and violated their human rights “in the most heartless and inhumane manner”.
The party’s national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the events unfolding in Hammanskraal were a direct outcome of a municipality that has been sleeping on the job and failing to provide clean and safe drinking water.
“It has become evident since 2016 that the poorest of the poor have never been on the priority list of the DA administration. Our people have learned the hard way that DA-governed areas have been transformed into islands of apartheid in a sea of democracy,” she said.