'I have nothing to hide about Edwin Sodi payments': Thulas Nxesi

Labour minister Thulas Nxesi on Thursday promised to co-operate with law enforcement agencies and the state capture inquiry about a R45,000 payment that controversial businessman Edwin Sodi made to “underprivileged” schoolchildren at his request.
Labour minister Thulas Nxesi on Thursday promised to co-operate with law enforcement agencies and the state capture inquiry about a R45,000 payment that controversial businessman Edwin Sodi made to “underprivileged” schoolchildren at his request.
Image: Esa Alexander

Labour and employment minister Thembelani 'Thulas' Nxesi has promised his full co-operation with law enforcement agencies and the state capture inquiry about a R45,000 payment that businessman Edwin Sodi made for “underprivileged” schoolchildren at his request.

Nxesi was responding after Sodi revealed to the Zondo commission on Tuesday that he made two payments of R30,000 and R15,000 towards financing the schooling needs of two “underprivileged” pupils.

Sodi is the businessman who was awarded a R255m asbestos tender in the Free State. He was quizzed at the commission this week about transactions from his company's bank account that made reference to top ANC leaders and ministers.

Sodi explained that the payments were not for Nxesi's personal benefit.

Nxesi said this was correct and added that Sodi paid for “underprivileged” children.

“In 2017, I was part of a general appeal to raise money to keep three children in school — the children of deceased trade unionists in financially distressed circumstances following the deaths of their parents,” he said.

“Several sources were approached, including Mr Sodi. Mr Sodi made the following payments: R15,000 for school fees deposited directly into the learner's school account, and R30,000 was paid directly for accommodation of two learners to allow them to continue with their schooling.”

Nxesi insisted that this did not amount to “gratification” as he personally had not benefited from it and Sodi had not received anything from the minister in return for it.

Nxesi said there were no personal relations between him and the children he had secured help for from Sodi.

The minister however failed to explain how he knew Sodi and why he had approached him for help.

He also did not explain why he, earning more than R1m per annum as a minister, had not contributed the R45,000 himself. 

The payments by Sodi were made on March 4 2017, when Nxesi was minister of public works - just a little more than three weeks before he was reshuffled to sport and recreation at the end of March that year.

Nxesi pledged full co-operation with the Zondo inquiry and any law enforcement agency in getting to the bottom of Sodi's payments.

“I have sought to clarify this matter with the Zondo commission and assured it of my support for its work. I have also pledged my full support and any further information it may require,” he said.

“I would like to state categorically that I have nothing to hide, and I shall help any law enforcement agencies tasked to investigate this matter.”

TimesLIVE


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