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