High-level Bosasa whistle-blower Angelo Agrizzi is a marked man, but he is hell-bent on finishing what he had started.
Agrizzi returned to the State Capture commission on Thursday having been alerted to an overnight call from a senior police officer to the inquiry’s investigators that his life was in danger.
Although his family would learn of this threat along with the country during the live TV broadcast, Agrizzi told the commission he was not surprised — he had come out from breakfast one morning to find a piece of paper stuck on his windscreen at a car wash.
The note was a warning for him to stop talking.
Daily Maverick on Thursday morning revealed explosive details of claims of a covert “hit squad” and a call to the State Capture Commission by an individual claiming that he and other members of the unit had been tasked to carry out certain operations at the Commission.
Agrizzi, the former chief operations officer of the embattled company rattled many cages when he ripped open the depth and extent of Bosasa’s alleged criminal enterprise, run with the help of a R70-million-a-year bribe system involving senior civil servants and politicians along with chicken, booze and furniture suppliers from Johannesburg’s West Rand to Lenasia.
He has thus far named former president Jacob Zuma, former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni and powerful minister of environmental affairs Nomvula Mokonyane (see Mokonyane’s statement below) as being among the alleged beneficiaries of the Bosasa cash-for-favours system.
He spent five hours in the witness box answering questions raised by commission chairman, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, during his initial testimony.
In doing this, Agrizzi confirmed and elaborated on, among other things:
Alleged monthly payments of R50,000 to former Gauteng premier, now a Cabinet minister, Nomvula Mokonyane. He testified that the “powerful” Mokonyane was alleged to be helping Bosasa get rid of a criminal investigation into the company’s dirty deals at the department of Correctional Services.
That Bosasa coughed up millions, in some cases generated through inflated or phony invoices from government departments, to help fund ANC events such as the Siyanqoba rallies, election activities or branded bashes. He casually mentioned a R12-million payment to “the Top Six”, a tag usually associated with the ANC’s top leadership structure. Agrizzi did not mention a time frame for this alleged payment, but Justice Zondo has asked him to try to provide the commission with more details.
He also testified that former Correctional Services director-general Patrick Gillingham was in so deep that Bosasa bent over backwards to fund his lifestyle, including the construction of a Midstream Estate, Centurion, home, cars for him and family members, right down to providing a divorce settlement for his ex-wife. When Gillingham complained about a green swimming pool, Bosasa replaced it with a Jacuzzi and wooden decking at more than R100,000. This was in addition to Gillingham’s monthly R100,000 payments.
“Imagine, you’re getting a house for free and you still complain about a green swimming pool,” Agrizzi said.
He has analysed the codes in his little bribe notes into a spreadsheet for the commission, now detailing the names of each Bosasa director who had commissioned the cash along with the intended recipient, the amounts and dates.
The commission now has a better list of names — beyond the big fish such as former SAA boss Myeni and former Correctional Services boss Linda Mti, who Agrizzi identified during his earlier testimony — and there is no doubt that investigators will be knocking on a few more doors down the line.
He flagged a R40,000 payment to an individual tasked with ensuring favourable ratings with BEE verifications agency Empowerdex and a R46,853 bill for repairs to an Audi S3 for Airports Company of South Africa employee Ruben Pillay.
Agrizzi’s testimony continues on Friday when he is scheduled to present “new” information. On Thursday afternoon he emphasised that while he was complicit in the corruption at Bosasa, he was never a director nor a shareholder of the company.
“I’m not looking for clemency,” he said.
‘Yes, I was involved, but I was not the mastermind’
Agrizzi reported to the board of directors and had to consult divisional directors on everything, including the hiring of staff. Agrizzi said he never had access to the company’s bank accounts or its financial records and neither did the other directors.
That, he said, was reserved for the eyes of Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, a multi-millionaire who didn’t have an office, a desk, a PA or a computer because he had everyone. The commission previously heard that Watson spent much time at Bosasa’s vaults packing piles of cash for bribes.
“Yes I was involved in all of it (the bribe scheme). But the mastermind is not myself, its other people that need to be investigated.”
And, said Agrizzi, every single corrupt deal in the company and the arrangement for bribes was done verbally, as Watson wouldn’t write anything down.
But, said Agrizzi:
“Gavin Watson knew about absolutely everything.”
He told the commission that during his early years at Bosasa, he realised the company had “political connections”.
He didn’t always have the details, but over time he came to know that people were being bribed.
But by 2009 when the Special Investigating Unit’s report into Bosasa came out, there was no denying the corruption.
Agrizzi admitted that he continued regardless. Agrizzi’s testimony resumes on Friday morning. DM
Minister Mokonyane on allegations at State Capture Commission of Inquiry (28 March 2019)
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Nomvula Mokonyane, yesterday (27 March 2019) received notice from the Judicial Commission Investigating Allegations of State Capture that allegations contained in the evidence of Mr Angelo Agrizzi, implicate her in unlawful, illegal or improper conduct.
The Commission’s Rule 3.3 states that ‘upon receipt’ of a notice and statement from the commission implicating one, the implicated party has 14 Days from the date of the notice, to file an application to testify, cross-examine a witness and/or call witnesses.
The Minister was never issued with such a notice at the instance of Mr Agrizzi’s initial testimony.
A formal complaint in this regard was filed with the Chair of the Commission, particularly on procedural fairness, potential prejudice and appropriateness of the decision of the Commission not to comply with its own rules and regulations in this regard.
The Chair of the Commission has undertaken to rule on this fundamental matter of legal principle in due course.
“Having now formally received a notice from the Commission and the aspects of the statements of Mr Agrizzi that make allegations against me, it is my intention to exercise my rights to testify, cross-examine and call witnesses before the Commission.”
“This is to ensure that we formally and under-oath, dismiss allegations that I have or had a corrupt or unethical relationship with Bosasa or the Watson Family as the alleged by Mr Agrizzi” said Minister Mokonyane.
“The allegations are of serious nature, self-contradictory in many respects and are designed to cast aspersions of impropriety against me in my personal and official capacities.”
“I intend to provide the Commission with an honest account of my relationship with the Watson Family, my role as the previous Head of Elections and Organizing for the African National Congress as well as my various roles in government insofar as they may relate to the ‘false’ allegations of bribery of myself by BOSASA” said Minister Mokonyane.
The Minister maintains that the allegations made against her are untrue and that this will become evident once she exercises her rights before the Commission. It is the intention of the Minister to respect the Commission and to refrain from running parallel public commentary on its proceedings via media. DM
"Five exclamation marks - the sure sign of an insane mind." ~ Terry Pratchett