Pinky Khoabane: It’s all lies, I was never paid by Bosasa

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JANUARY 24: Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi continues with his testimony at the Raymond Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on January 23, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Testifying for the 7th day, Agrizzi claimed that Bosasa had access to confidential documents belonging to the NPA and the Hawks with the aid of Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi, who kept officials informed regarding the progress of a corruption investigation into the facilities company. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

Journalist Pinky Khoabane - who was named by former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi at the Zondo commission as one of the journalists who received bribes for writing positive articles about the company - has accused him of lying.

Khoabane was interviewed by Thabiso TT Tema on Power FM on Monday night.

She said she had received a recording in October last year of a “racist rant” by Agrizzi, in which he also implicated journalists who had been “cultivated” four years ago – including News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson and Carte Blanche anchor Derek Watts, and two others. According to Khoabane, City Press ran an article about the recording but neglected to mention Basson or Watts.

‘It’s a lie’

Khoabane claims she then contacted Bosasa and attempted to arrange a meeting with its spokesperson, Papa Leshabane. “I have an email to that effect,” Khoabane told Tema.

“This notion that I had been on Bosasa’s payroll since 2012 is a lie.”

Khoabane claims she subsequently met with Leshabane, who confirmed the authenticity of the recording.

Agrizzi on Monday named three journalists, who he claimed had been paid to write positive stories about Bosasa. He said they were paid by Leshabane.

One was Khoabane, who was a columnist for the Sunday Times, while two others – one “Bongs” from the Eastern Cape and a “Ntuli” who allegedly wrote for The Star or the Sunday Times – were also named. Their exact identities, however, remain unclear.

Khoabane had also previously worked for now-defunct Gupta-owned newspaper The New Age.

Agrizzi was testifying for the eighth day in front of the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday.

‘I only met with spokesperson’

Khoabane told Tema her meeting with Leshabane was the only contact she had ever had with Bosasa.

She claimed Agrizzi had “dragged her name into this” because she had published the recording in its entirety, including naming Basson and Watts. According to Khoabane, the two journalists would be used to help “turn around” the image of Bosasa.

Pushed by Tema as to whether the recording revealed that Basson and Watts had “done anything to that end”, Khoabane responded: “No.”

She claimed, however, that she was in possession of other recordings in which Agrizzi negotiated his return to Bosasa “with three or four people”.

Khoabane published these recordings on her blog, she said.

She had initially tweeted that she would be interviewed on SABC1’s Morning Live on Tuesday morning, but the interview never took place.

In response to Khoabane’s claims, Basson tweeted: “Pinky Khoabane has been peddling lies about me since last year. In this context, I find Mr Agrizzi’s evidence that she was allegedly paid by Bosasa to discredit me interesting. I will investigate this further.

“Why is Ms Khoabane desperately trying to link me to Bosasa’s corruption and Agrizzi’s racism, when she has not a shred of evidence about this? Only she can answer this question. My rights are reserved.”

Khoabane on Monday took to Twitter to deny ever receiving money from Bosasa.

She started posting moments after Agrizzi told the commission that Khoabane and the two journalists had been paid bribes to ensure that negative stories about Bosasa did not appear in their publications.

“I have never met Angelo Agrizzi. I simply reported on his racist rants and his links. I will make a submission to @StateCaptureCom,” Khoabane tweeted.

‘I want to cross-examine Agrizzi’

In a later tweet, she said she could only apply for the right to cross-examine Agrizzi at the commission, with no dates set, and write in a complaint.

Also on Monday, communications practitioner Stephen Laufer said it was he who fired Bosasa as a client when allegedly asked to undertake “unethical activities” by the company.Laufer was named by Agrizzi in his testimony before the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday.

Agrizzi told the commission that Laufer and Benedicta Dube were allegedly “hired” as public relations people by the company to discredit journalists who were writing negative articles about Bosasa.

He then named the three journalists, whom he said were paid by Leshabane.

“I was open to all of my many journalistic contacts that Bosasa was a client in the same way as I have never hidden the names of other clients from any media representative,” Laufer said.

“The relationship with Bosasa ended in late 2007. I drew the line when I was asked to undertake what for me were clearly unethical activities directed against specific journalists named by Mr Agrizzi.

“I fired Mr Agrizzi and his company immediately as clients. Mr Agrizzi is well aware of all of this.” DM


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