South Africa

Bosasa for sale: The end of an alleged corrupt era as ‘auction of the decade’ gets under way

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JANUARY 18: Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi testifies at the state capture commission of inquiry in Parktown on January 18, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. In his testimony Agrizzi implicated the ANC, saying that Bosasa once laundered money for the party's electioneering in the North West. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla)

Twenty-three years after Gavin Watson started to build his Bosasa empire, it all comes to an end this week.

Starting on Wednesday, the Krugersdorp tender machine, which was built on R12bn in government contracts over more than a decade – is set to be dismantled and sold, piece by piece.

More than 140 cars, trucks and bakkies, expensive furniture, computer equipment and high-end security equipment as well as catering and kitchen equipment on an industrial scale will go under the hammer, managed under the eagle eye of Park Village Auctions and Bidders Choice.

Most of the vehicles are passenger vehicles, fleet cars used by Bosasa’s physical security company – BlackRox Security Intelligence Service – and the company’s technical security arm, Global Technology Systems.

But one lucky buyer will drive off in the late Bosasa CEO’s metallic blue BMW X5 (with damaged rims). If Watson’s million-rand wheels do not take your fancy, however, a 2013 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S that Watson previously drove is also up for grabs, along with a 2018 Mercedes-Benz E250 or an Audi S5 Sportback.

Multiple small bakkies and small hatchback Toyotas as well as Fortuners and Toyota Corolla sedans, favoured by ride-hailing taxi drivers, are included in the catalogue.

For the more business-minded, there are numerous refrigerated containers and medium to large trucks.

And that is only on day one of the three-day event which is set to run from December 4 to 6.

In a joint statement last week, the auctioneers said the auction was going ahead as planned, despite public claims made by Watson’s nephew, Jared Watson.

On Monday, a Park Village Auctions director confirmed to News24 it had not received any indication of court action to stop the auction.

“Controversy arose after the auction’s official announcement as African Global Operations [formerly Bosasa] stakeholders made public claims that the sale would not go ahead. Despite this, the duly appointed auction houses have stood firm in saying the assets will be sold off as planned,” the statement read.

“For this reason, the auctioneers have dubbed the sale as ‘the biggest auction of the decade both in significance and sheer magnitude of the physical lots on offer’,” it added.

Viewing started over the weekend and Monday, with doors to be open all day on Tuesday for prospective bidders to get a good look.

Bosasa, renamed African Global Operations in 2017, and its subsidiary companies were placed under voluntary liquidation in February 2019 after two major banks indicated they would be closing the company’s accounts.

The account closures were a direct result of the PR disaster the banks faced in the wake of damning evidence of large-scale corruption delivered by former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi before the Zondo commission into state capture.

Last week, the liquidators – Cloete Murray, Ralph Lutchman and Tania Oosthuizen – successfully overturned a High Court order in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

It set aside the High Court’s March 2019 order to remove them, saying it should have had cognisance of facts brought before it by Murray which proved the company was insolvent.

The big money items – the properties owned by Bosasa – will be auctioned on day two (Thursday). This includes Bosasa’s head office in Luipaardsvlei, an 8-hectare extent replete with high-end office space, parking for a small army, a lapa and guesthouse entertainment area.

“The highlights will be the three fixed properties, comprising Bosasa headquarters and campus, Lindela Repatriation Centre, and the entire contents of a functional copper plant,” said Pieter Geldenhuys of Bidder’s Choice.

“Those will be narrowly followed by the enormous selection of cars, and the exquisite home and office furniture on offer.”

Clive Lazarus of Park Village Auctions said it was clear “no expense was spared” on the furniture.

News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson revealed in his new book, Blessed by Bosasa , how cleaners would complain of “all the semen” staining the floors, desks and beds inside the guesthouse, apparently the result of a furious sub-culture of philandering that was prevalent at the company.

The 26-hectare property on which the repatriation centre stands are also up for grabs. News24 understands the sale of this property might be subject to an ongoing lease agreement between the owner and Department of Home Affairs who paid Bosasa for years to manage the holding facility.

Finally, a 9-hectare property containing Rodcor – Bosasa’s copper smelting plant – will go under the hammer. Other buildings on the property include hostels, storerooms, offices and a weigh bridge.

The proceeds of the auction, as per the Insolvency Act, will be pooled to pay Bosasa’s creditors – the largest of which is expected to be the South African Revenue Service.

A tax inquiry is under way into Bosasa and several of its directors’ tax affairs. News24 understands the final tax assessment could run into hundreds of millions of rand.

Viewing starts at 09:00, with the first lots to be called up for bidding just after 11:00 on Wednesday.

A catalogue, including all the vehicles for sale, can be found on Park Village Auction’s website here.



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