Human rights commission takes Agrizzi to court over racial slurs


JOHANNESBURG, January 31 – Following racist comments heard in a recording played at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it planned to bring hate speech charges against former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi.

“The commission finds this conduct particularly egregious, hurtful, uncalled for and it is the kind of instance which would embolden like-minded individuals if no action is taken or sanction meted out. The commission believes that Mr Agrizzi has engaged in hate speech which accentuates the chasms that were fostered before 1994 and which undermines the aspirations of our constitutional democracy,” the SAHRC said in a statement on Wednesday.

On his last day on the stand at the state capture commission of inquiry on Tuesday, Agrizzi admitted to being a racist after the inquiry heard a recording in which he frequently used the k-word to describe his former colleagues Papa Leshabane and Johannes Gumede.

Agrizzi’s rant, shared widely on social media, was recorded during a meeting at his home with Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson’s brother Jarred, who brought along Gavin’s two children, Lindsay and Roth.

Agrizzi told inquiry chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that he was tired and “half asleep” at the meeting after working the whole night, and had consumed alcohol. He apologised, adding that he was “embarrassed and ashamed”.

The meeting was one of many requested by the Watson family members, sent by Gavin Watson to persuade Agrizzi to not expose Bosasa’s illegal activities and return to the company. Agrizzi said he was offered millions of rands in exchange for his silence.

The SAHRC said it would seek appropriate relief at the Equality Court, including an order for payment of damages against Agrizzi, and that the court submit the case to the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) for possible institution of criminal proceedings. (ANA)