/ 26 September 2023

SIU to probe Sodi-linked botched Rooiwal contract

Edwin Sodi
Edwin Sodi. (Mlungisi Louw/Gallo Images)

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has been given the green light to investigate allegations of maladministration and corruption at the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and its refurbishment project at the Rooiwal wastewater treatment works, valued at just over R290 million.

President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the investigation into irregularities at the City of Tshwane and to recover any financial losses suffered by the State, in terms of the Special Investigating Unit and Special Tribunals Act, 1996.  

The SIU’s investigation would cover unlawful and improper conduct that allegedly took place from 1 January 2018 to 22 September 2023, the units’ spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago said on Monday. 

Rooiwal has been potentially linked to the outbreak of cholera in nearby Hammanskraal in May this year, which killed 31 people. 

Situated upstream of Hammanskraal, Rooiwal has insufficient capacity to deal with the volume of wastewater entering the works, the Mail & Guardian reported in June

Andre Louwrens, whose farm is in Vastfontein, north of Pretoria, said at the time: “A few years ago, there was a catastrophic failure of Rooiwal. Everything shut down, nothing was working and the Apies River just filled up with deep, dark, black sewage for a month. 

“Some guy got a contract at Rooiwal; the work wasn’t finished and the money is gone,” he said, referring to companies linked to state capture-implicated businessman Edwin Sodi.

Sodi was allegedly awarded a contract to the value of R291 million for the Rooiwal upgrade, despite not being competent to carry out this kind of work. In addition, recent allegations of tender irregularities suggest that companies contracted to carry out Phase 1 of the upgrade are also linked to Sodi. 

In March 2020, the Pretoria high court prevented the city’s efforts to cancel a contract to fix Rooiwal, which has since then been leaking untreated sewage into Hammanskraal’s water system. 

A 2021 report by the South African Human Rights Commission found that Tshwane’s freshwater sources are being polluted because the city did not maintain its wastewater treatment works. 

In its report, the commission said it was clear that the wastewater treatment works in the City of Tshwane were malfunctioning. “As a result, the freshwater sources — the Apies, Tolwane, Pienaar and Hennops rivers and the Roodeplaat and Leeukraal dams — are being polluted with untreated and partially treated sewage and sludge.”

Kganyago said the scope of the SIU’s investigation includes any unlawful or irregular conduct by employees of the municipality, service providers and officials. 

The city previously vowed the full rehabilitation and upgrade of Rooiwal would be completed by 2026 at a cost of R4 billion.