DAYS OF ZONDO
Nomvula Mokonyane: ‘Agrizzi wants to punish me’
Former Cabinet minister Nomvula Mokonyane has dismissed Angelo Agrizzi’s allegations that she had been the beneficiary of cash and other favours from Bosasa as the racist and misogynistic claims of a man who is out to punish her.
Former Water Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said allegations made against her at the State Capture Commission by former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi were extremely defamatory and full of contradictions.
Those claims smacked of hatred and demonstrated excessive desperation – for reasons only known to Agrizzi – to discredit her, she said.
“His desperation hurts me so bad. He has to come to the commission to explain his motive,” said Mokonyane.
The key point of Agrizzi’s evidence is that the then-Bosasa CEO, the late Gavin Watson, had had a special relationship with Mokonyane.
And, that Bosasa had given the former minister gifts and monthly cash payments to buy political influence, allegedly so she would help shield it from a damning investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) or criminal prosecutions.
Testifying at the Zondo Commission on Monday, Mokonyane tackled a wide range of allegations made by Agrizzi – she confirmed and denied some, and provided explanations or alternative versions for others.
“He is punishing me for whatever went wrong between him and Gavin Watson.”
She said it was “a damn lie” that Bosasa had tasked her with convincing former acting NDPP Nomgcobo Jiba, or former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat to intervene on behalf of Bosasa.
“I have never been in any department where Bosasa worked and I am not sure if the SIU stopped their investigations. I really don’t know but I think the man is full of hatred.”
Mokonyane also denied Agrizzi’s claims that she had received R50,000 a month from Bosasa or Watson or that she ever asked for or issued instructions for repairs or maintenance and security work at her home to be done by Bosasa or subcontractors to the company.
Mokonyane said Agrizzi had lied when he claimed that Bosasa had paid for her late son’s funeral: “Bosasa never buried my child.”
Responding to Agrizzi’s testimony that Bosasa had provided a hired Audi A3 for her adult daughter, Mokonyane said while she didn’t have knowledge of this, it was possible that her daughter had helped Watson with matters relating to China at times, as she was fluent in business Mandarin.
Yes, Bosasa gave the ANC funds
She said Bosasa’s owners, the Watson family, were long-standing friends of the ANC and confirmed the company’s sponsorship of various ANC events.
“I’ve known the Watsons since pre-democracy years. I’ve also known their generosity long before the days of tenders when they supported detainees.
“I can’t deny that Bosasa supported the ANC. I can’t deny that Bosasa office park has, on more than one occasion, been an election operations centre of the ANC.”
And, neither would she deny that the company had worked with the ANC at national level as well as on the West Rand or at provincial events providing food or lunch packs for volunteers.
Asked whether Bosasa had volunteered its generous support for the ANC (as opposed to responding to requests) Mokonyane said the Watson family were ANC members and that they supported the organisation out of their own conviction and love for SA.
She would not be drawn on the ANC’s take on corruption allegations surrounding the company’s lucrative deals – much of which became the subject of an SIU investigation more than a decade ago.
Light bulbs and pool pumps
Mokonyane spent the better part of five hours in the witness box trying to dent the testimony of several witnesses who had previously detailed numerous Bosasa-funded repairs and installations at her home.
Her denials were firm but they effectively suggested that the Bosasa-linked contractors or staff had somehow – over the course of several years – gained authorised access to her property to carry out the work.
The senior ANC politician conceded that this could not have happened without security personnel at her home having been given the green light to allow access from either her or her husband, Serge, who died in 2019.
But, Mokonyane maintained she was never in charge of maintenance issues around the house and said if her late husband had arranged for the Bosasa crew, he would have told her about it.
He never did, Mokonyane said.
She said there was only one instance where Bosasa had come out, and that was to resolve the issue of a security alarm that had gone off due to bad weather.
The commission heard details of a WhatsApp message from Mokonyane’s PA, Sandy Thomas, to Bosasa’s former head of special operations, Richard le Roux, about a faulty alarm:
“Dear Richard. There is a problem at the house with the alarm system for some reason it keeps ringing so now it has to be switched off at the switch. Please let me know what to do.”
The commission heard that the message contained no address, suggesting that Le Roux was clearly being referred to a house that he knew or had visited before.
Asked about this, Mokonyane conceded that her PA might have been referred to Bosasa during this incident.
“I wasn’t home and my own service provider was not available. That is when my husband called Sandy [Thomas] to sort it out.”
Mokonyane, who concluded her testimony, said she was testifying at the commission to respond to Agrizzi’s allegations even though she would prefer to continue her life as a widow or to invest in her grandchildren.
The commission resumes on Tuesday. DM