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Ex Gauteng HoD Margaret-Ann Diedricks arrested over R7-...

Scorpio

SCORPIO

Ex Gauteng HoD Margaret-Ann Diedricks arrested over R7-million ‘kickbacks’ from Free State asbestos tender

Corruption accused Margaret-Ann Diedricks. (Photo: Supplied)

Ace Magashule and others already charged over the Free State’s R255-million asbestos audit contract are getting a new co-accused. The former head of Gauteng’s human settlements department, who later became the DG for the national department of water and sanitation, has been nabbed over alleged kickbacks relating to the 2014 Free State deal.

Margaret-Ann Diedricks (56), the former acting head of department (HoD) at the Gauteng department of human settlements, has been arrested in connection with alleged kickbacks totalling more than R7-million. 

The allegedly corrupt payments to Diedricks were made by controversial businessman Edwin Sodi’s company, Blackhead Consulting, one of two companies involved in the Free State’s R255-million asbestos audit contract.

Scorpio has learnt that members of the Hawks arrested Diedricks at her home in Alberton in Gauteng on Wednesday, 20 July 2022.

She is expected to appear in the high court in Bloemfontein on Thursday, where she will face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravening the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

In her former position as HoD at Gauteng’s human settlements department, Diedricks played a key role in Blackhead Consulting’s appointment for the R255-million deal, along with murdered businessman Igo Mpambani’s entity, Diamond Hill Trading.

Blackhead Consulting had initially been contracted to Gauteng’s human settlements department.

Using loopholes in South Africa’s procurement legislation, Diedricks and her counterpart in the Free State, Nthimotse “Tim” Mokhesi, in August 2014 transferred Blackhead Consulting’s services from Gauteng to the Free State.

This allowed Blackhead Consulting and its joint venture (JV) partner, Mpambani’s Diamond Hill Trading, to clinch a hugely inflated contract for auditing houses with asbestos roofs in the Free State, at a cost of R255-million.

The Blackhead Consulting-Diamond Hill Trading JV secured the deal without an open and competitive bidding process thanks, in part, to Diedricks’ intervention.

Mokhesi, along with Sodi, then Free State premier Ace Magashule and several other individuals linked to the contract, were previously arrested and charged

Scorpio understands the Hawks have unearthed a payment of R7.1-million that Sodi’s Blackhead Consulting made to a company called B2B Consultants in April 2015.

This was only a week after the Blackhead Consulting-Diamond Hill Trading JV had received a R25-million instalment on the asbestos audit contract from the Free State’s human settlements department (FSHS).

B2B Consultants’ sole director at the time was Diedricks’ sister-in-law, and Diedricks herself later became a director of the company. 

What’s more, B2B Consultants allegedly transferred more than R4-million to Diedricks’ own account, according to information at our disposal. 

The former Gauteng official’s surname featured on a “cost of business” spreadsheet first identified in this journalist’s book, Gangster State.

Mpambani and Sodi emailed various versions of the spreadsheet to one another in March 2015, around the time of the R25-million tranche from the FSHS.

The spreadsheet and related emails suggested that one “Diedricks” was due to receive payments from Sodi’s company after the JV got paid by the FSHS. 

Before Gangster State was published, Diedricks vehemently denied that she’d received dubious payments linked to the asbestos contract.

“I can emphatically say that I did not receive any money from these gentlemen [Sodi and Mpambani]. I have no explanation for the spreadsheet as I have never seen it and had no input into it,” she said in one WhatsApp message.

“I would assume that those that generated it would be able to assist you in terms of why the surname Diedricks appears there,” she had added.

Diedricks also threatened to sue this journalist.

“I would urge you to carefully consider publishing a story that is not based on proof and facts. I deny any wrongdoing on my part and will pursue legal steps in the event of your casting aspersions or impugning my character and good name,” she wrote in an email.

Diedricks in October 2014 left her job as Gauteng’s acting HoD for human settlements and became the director-general (DG) for the national department of water and sanitation under then minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

Diedricks resigned from her job as DG in July 2016. DM

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All Comments 12

  • Well done, Scorpio – keep stinging the culprits!!
    And also to the excellent sleuth and journalist (and author), Pieter-Louis Myburgh!!

  • She skipped that Sunday School class where the theme was, “your sins will always find you out, and often they’re shouted from the rooftops.”

  • To my utter and complete disgust we continue to see these blatant gangsters being arrested and getting out on bail, when the f$$$k are we actually going to see some of them going to jail where they belong?
    Who has been charged with orchestrating last years riots in KZN? we all know who they are.

  • It’s mildly satisfying to see these criminals eventually being brought to book. However, our justice system is broken and the State doesn’t appear to have public prosecutors with the requisite skills to take on the bunch of rogues that have proliferated over the years as defense lawyers. The prosecution is not only expected to bend-over-backwards to accommodate incompetent anti-government civil servants, but to clap hands as well! Any reasonable person following these tedious court cases can or should see the immense waste of time and money they are costing this country on people so obviously guilty as charged! What is our prosecuting authority doing about white collar crime in the meantime? Billions of South African Rands in investments stolen, embezzled and syphoned off at the expense of a trusting investment industry to fulfil the nefarious desires of a burgeoning bunch of avaricious crooks!

  • The underlying tragedy in this whole saga is the human impact of asbestos roofing on the inhabitants and community. Asbestosis (like silicosis) is one impact but a far more insidious health impact is Mesothelioma. Human lives are being affected by individuals who profited obscenely. So the bigger story is what about the inhabitants? Their health and well-being?

    • As an industrial chemist for 10 years in the ‘60s and ‘70s I worked with asbestos laden dust in a factory where it was a critical ingredient in a well known DIY product. I would have breathed it in, 5 days a week, for 10 years. My lung capacity was tested by a pulmonologist in the mid ‘80s – it was 108%. I had it checked again earlier this century, it had gone down to 104%. I am also a smoker. Is the risk from asbestos grossly exaggerated ( like the hole in the ozone layer) or am I just an advanced lifeform? Let’s face it – a coat of paint would seal the surface and prevent ANY dust and it’s advantage is it’s fire-proof.

      • I wholly and solely agree – A coat of paint. In my humble opinion, as a hands on person my whole life, if you don’t disturb the product (grinding and cutting) it’s health risk is probably 5%. I think the whole asbestos thing is overdone.

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