KZN prisons’ boss wants to cross examine Agrizzi after bribery allegations

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DURBAN, January 29 – Suspended KwaZulu-Natal prisons’ boss Mnikelwa Nxele — who has been named as receiving bribes from prison service provider Bosasa — has told the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that he wants to cross examine Angelo Agrizzi.

Nxele was speaking to African News Agency (ANA) outside the Durban Labour Court on Tuesday, where he was trying to have his suspension – effective Wednesday last week — overturned.

According to Nxele and the department of correctional services (DCS), the suspension had nothing to do with revelations made by former Bosasa chief operating officer Agrizzi at the commission.

Nxele said he had written to the commission and had noted with “concern” that he was not notified that he would be implicated in any allegations of wrongdoing.

Agrizzi — who finished his testimony on Tuesday after two weeks on the stand — told the commission last Tuesday that Nxele received R57,000 a month for his influence. Nxele is the DCS regional commissioner for KwaZulu-Natal.

Agrizzi told the commission that he once handed Nxele R57,000 at the Intercontinental Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Asked directly if he had ever taken money from Agrizzi, Nxele refused to answer. Instead, he said he would not want to discuss “matters outside of the commission”, as it would be “undermining the processes”.

He instead shared the contents of his email sent to the commission last week.

In the email, addressed to commission chair deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, Nxele said he was contacting the inquiry with a “heavy heart following the events at the state capture commission”.

“I would like to express my concern and reservation about the failure of the commission to inform me as a person who is implicated by Mr. Angelo Agrizzi in his affidavit and testimony at the commission. I learnt through the media that my name was mentioned including various allegations with the department of correctional services on one hand and Bosasa on the other,” he said.

Nxele said it was his understanding that the commission should have “alerted” him so that he was in a position to “prepare for my participation and response to the allegation”.

“I ask that this be corrected and ask for the proper notice and all necessary documents and recordings in as far as allegations against me are concerned. Upon receipt of the record mentioned above it is my considered view that I will be in a position in my view to apply for cross examination of the witness and opportunity to put my version to the commission”.

Nxele said the commission responded on Friday, sent a copy of Agrizzi’s statement and said they looked forward to his participation.

DCS spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo, who was present at Nxele’s labour court hearing, said the department was “following the inquiry very closely”.

“We have an interest [in the inquiry]. All those implicated will have to state their case and at the end of the inquiry we will have a clear picture of what has transpired and what is meant to happen. As a department we must act on whatever…is placed before us,” said Nxumalo. (ANA)