JOHANNESBURG- Former president Jacob Zuma said that he hoped late Bosasa boss Gavin Watson was not “cleverly removed” by “forces”, adding that the way in which Watson died was mysterious.
Zuma was speaking at Watson’s funeral service held at the Feather Market Hall in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday.
Zuma entered the venue along with a large group of Watson family members as they accompanied the casket decorated with fresh flowers.
Scores of dignitaries attended the funeral service, including Limpho Hani, the wife of anti-apartheid icon Chris Hani, former defence minister Charles Nqakula, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, senior African National Congress MP Cedrick Frolick.
Papa Leshabane, the executive director of Bosasa, now African Global Operations, acted as programme director for the high profile funeral.
Zuma said that the report into Watson’s death had many “gaps” and he hoped those gaps would be clarified as the investigation into his death when the car the businessman was driving inexplicably crashed into a concrete barrier outside OR Tambo International Airport on August 26.
Zuma referred to Watson as his brother and said that comrades were dying suddenly. He said that Watson died at a time his name was raised to testify at the state capture commission of inquiry so that he could “clear matters” that needed to be cleared.
“There are comrades who left us very mysteriously. I hope comrade Gavin will not be counted among those who were cleverly removed from the scene,” said Zuma.
Watson and Bosasa was thrust back into the limelight earlier this year when former company CFO Angelo Afrizzi alleged that the late businessman was the mastermind behind Bosasa’s allegedly dodgy contracts with the government worth billions of rands.
The former CFO said he decided to come clean and reveal all, and told the state capture commission of inquiry that he was tasked with organising bribes in cash for Zuma, Cartier pens, a Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with banknotes for former South African Airways board chairwoman Dudu Myeni, and in the case of former water affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane, huge orders of food and drinks for Christmas.
“We are living in a strange era. Those who fought for our freedom were vilified by the apartheid system and those who were not vilified turned the other way around. Those who fought for our freedom are made to look like the worst,” said Zuma.
He praised Watson for his contribution in liberating the country but again turned to people who he claimed controlled the country. Zuma claimed that he himself was poisoned by those “forces”.
“They spent time identifying those who they believed who would be an obstacle, people who need to be removed. I hope we are not dealing with that.”
He said that a comrade who was once willing to die with you during the struggle would in today’s era kill you for personal gain. Zuma said that for decades the Watson family had been under the spotlight, they had suffered and were harassed due to their contribution to the struggle.
“And we are at a stage where a commission is used to further deal with this family,” said Zuma. “We need to address this thing, else we are all going to die one by one.
“It’s not good to feel in your own country that you are not safe and those matters need leaders to help us feel safe. Zuma also recalled Watson visiting him at his village which he jokingly referred to as his “little home” called Nkandla. He said that Watson wanted to see it for himself and they both had a good time together.”