Agrizzi set to reveal more Bosasa dirt at Zondo inquiry

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JOHANNESBURG, January 18 – Whistle-blower Angelo Agrizzi, the former chief operations officer of Bosasa, will continue giving his testimony at the Zondo Commission on Friday.

The inquiry was abruptly adjourned on Thursday afternoon following state capture, alleging that the company’s politically-connected chief executive, Gavin Watson, bribed his way to win  lucrative government contracts for catering, security and facilities management services.

Commission chair deputy chief justice, Raymond Zondo adjourned proceedings to address security issues after Agrizzi raised red flags over the presence of a former policeman and Bosasa’s head of security, Solomon Segale.

The former cop allegedly gained entry to the venue using his expired police ID card.

State institutions that Agrizzi implicated in corruption that involved Bosasa doing favours for, and giving donations to influential politicians in return for government tenders included Sasol, ACSA, the Post Office, and the correctional services department.

“Every single contract was tainted with bribes and corruption. I wouldn’t say that they were all awarded because of corruption. But once they were awarded, corruption crept in because someone had to be taken care of,” Agrizzi said.

The former Bosasa COO said Watson spent anything between R4 and R6 million a month on paying bribes to government officials to secure tenders.

“But that was a drop in the ocean compared to their monthly revenue,” Agrizzi said.

On Thursday he showed the inquiry a six-minute long video taken in 2017 in which Watson is seen with his former business partner Johannes Gumede and Bosasa executive director Papa Leshabane apparently counting R1 million in stacks of R50,000 bundles cash inside a walk-in vault at Bosasa offices.

Agrizzi said confidential documents were also stored in the vault.

He said the money was allegedly going to be used to pay bribes to secure tenders.

Agrizzi, who was known to live a flashy lifestyle and has a penchant for Italian sports cars, admitted that he was complicit in corrupt activities that allegedly took place at Bosasa, including the paying of bribes because he was also paid huge sums of money to buy his silence.

But he said that at some point he became disillusioned with this arrangement because he did not agree with such business practices in the first place.

“We were given money to buy out loyalty. It makes you feel important, but you’re caught up in the cult. You knew all these criminal activities, and you are complicit. But it’s a trap,” Agrizzi said.

“You raised your standard of leaving because of this ‘monopoly money’, and by the time you start complaining about it, it has taken over you. If you pay people bribes every month you entrap them and you can control them for life.”

But Agrizzi said all Bosasa employees involved in corruption, including him, were living in fear of being “taken out” as Watson has links to controversial policemen who in one way or another had intimidated him to stay loyal and not rat out on Watson.

“I was called at a meeting at Michelangelo [Hotel in Sandton] once with a gentleman named Killer Ximba, he opened up a bag and showed me a .45 colt with a white handle. If you didn’t do what was told to you, you became a problem. You had to leave or salaries were cut,” he said.

Ximba allegedly had links to former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and in 2015.

Mdluli was declared unfit to be a policeman due to his history of torture after he had arrested and interrogated convicted Czech drug dealer, Radovan Krejcir.

Meanwhile, there have been reactions to Agrizzi’s testimony with the Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Mmusi Maimane, calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to cancel all existing government contracts with Bosasa, which changed its name to African Global Operation. Maimane also demanded an inquiry into the dealings of the firm.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said that it had taken note of Agrizzi’s testimony in which he alleged that bribes were paid to the union’s former Kloof gold mine branch chairperson, the late Jackson Mafika, to win catering tenders.

But international relations minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, denied Agrizzi’s allegation that she was a director of Dyambu Holdings, the company that gave birth to Bosasa, saying that this was incorrect and false. (ANA)