Days of Zondo

Zondo commission secretary implicated in Bosasa corruption

By News24 18 January 2019
Caption
Screenshot: Angelo Agrizzi, former Bosasa chief operations officerm testifies at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, 16 January 2019. eNCA livestream/Youtube

The secretary of the State Capture commission of inquiry, Dr Khotso de Wee, is implicated in testimony before the selfsame commission by former Bosasa top boss, Angelo Agrizzi.

In a stunning twist, News24 can report that Angelo Agrizzi will name De Wee as a recipient of cash payments relating to a 2008 tender awarded to Bosasa subsidiary, Sondolo IT, by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ) for the installation of security systems at courts around the country.

On Friday afternoon, Judge Raymond Zondo released a statement indicating that as soon as he became aware of the allegation made against De Wee by Agrizzi he raised it with the commission’s secretary who confirmed that he had been the COO of the department of Justice but denied receiving any payments from Bosasa. 

In March 2018, Zondo appointed De Wee as the secretary for the commission, but at the time the tender was awarded De Wee was the chief operations officer at the DOJ. 

Sondolo IT changed its name to Global Technology Systems (GTS) in 2017.

De Wee, who now holds a crucial position at the Zondo commission, was allegedly paid an undisclosed amount of cash monthly by Bosasa, via a politically connected middleman, Sesinyi Seopela.

This is allegedly in return for a 2008 contract awarded to Sondolo IT which was worth roughly R600-million for the provision of CCTV and access control systems at buildings administrated by the DOJ around the country, which included court buildings.

De Wee has now asked to be placed on special leave from his work at the commission while investigations into the allegations are undertaken. This has been granted and will be in effect from January 22.

On Thursday, the commission was prematurely adjourned after lunch. This followed Agrizzi raising concerns over his safety following a security breach on Wednesday. A Bosasa employee and ex-cop, Solomon Segale, had allegedly snuck into the commission using his expired police ID card on Wednesday.

Chairperson for the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, announced the adjournment on Thursday, saying he wished to open up the venue to allow for security measures to be reviewed and stepped up.

The middleman, the tender and the bribes

Agrizzi will testify that it was through Seopela that Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson became aware of the DOJ tender.

Agrizzi testified before the commission on Wednesday that at some stage he became responsible for managing the cash that was packed in grey plastic bags to be handed to various government officials as bribes.

Between 2008 and 2016, Agrizzi handed nearly R1-million in cash to Seopela on a monthly basis, which was then to be distributed to various officials at the DOJ and also the Department of Transport.

De Wee was allegedly among the officials who would then, in turn, receive the cash from Seopela.

In total roughly R15-million was paid in this manner.

This practice was also ostensibly applied when Sondolo IT/GTS was awarded a R400-million contract in 2011 to provide physical guarding at the same court buildings and National Prosecuting Authority offices.

Sondolo IT/GTS was one of six companies to be awarded a part of the massive R1-billion security contract but was the only company to be awarded work in all nine provinces.

Fidelity Security was also awarded a R300-million share of the contract, to guard buildings in seven provinces.

De Wee was not immediately available to comment when contacted on Thursday evening. News24 attempted to reach him again on Friday morning. Seopela answered his phone on Friday morning, but shortly after hearing he was speaking to a journalist, cut the call. “I am walking to the gym, call me in the afternoon,” Seopela said.

He read a subsequent WhatsApp text message but did not respond.

De Wee and Bosasa meet again at Zondo Commission

The paths of De Wee and Bosasa, or specifically Sondolo IT/GTS, crossed again in 2018.

In July last year, News24 reported that a R10-million contract was awarded to Sondolo IT/GTS to provide CCTV, access control and physical guarding services at the temporary offices occupied by the Zondo Commission’s staff.

The R10-million price tag included a quote to maintain the system for a period of three years.

The contract was awarded by the DOJ. Minutes of meetings between various suppliers to the commission revealed Sondolo IT/GTS was “nominated” for the job.

This means that no competitive bidding process was followed.

Sondolo IT/GTS was supposed to also provide physical guarding at the entrance of the venue for the public hearings at the Hill on Empire building in Parktown.

On the very first day of public hearings News24 observed guards at the entrance wearing Sondolo IT branded jackets and a GTS branded vehicle was seen in the parking lot.

Zondo then asked for work by the Bosasa linked company to stop while he probed the deal, but no update has been provided since.

The South African Police Service then took over the physical security aspect, however, it is not clear whether access control and CCTV systems Bosasa was destined to install were in fact installed, or removed subsequent to News24 reports on the deal. DM

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