All Bosasa’s state contracts were tainted by corruption, says Angelo Agrizzi
Even contracts not based on corruption, once awarded, ‘corruption crept in’
A former senior employee of facilities management company Bosasa says all contracts the company has had with the state had been "tainted" by bribery and corruption.
Bosasa, which has been renamed African Global Operations, has been the beneficiary of multibillion-rand contracts with the state and is being implicated in allegations of widespread corruption.
The testimony of its former COO, Angelo Agrizzi, who alleges that the company paid between R4m and R6m a month in bribes to secure contracts, is the first heard at the commission of inquiry into state capture which does not involve the Gupta family, whose actions prompted the establishment of the commission.
The commission, chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, also for the first time had to adjourn its proceedings due to a "security situation".
Agrizzi raised concern with the commission early on Thursday after he had seen Solomon Segale, a special operations manager at Bosasa, standing with a group of police officers at the commission venue on Wednesday. Agrizzi, who has received death threats and is being provided with protection by the commission, alleged that Segale, a former police officer, had gained access to the hearing by using an expired police card.
In his testimony on Thursday, he not only incriminated himself, but also his former Bosasa colleagues. He gave a detailed breakdown of a video, which was allegedly recorded by the company’s CFO, Andries van Tonder, in which CEO Gavin Watson can be seen counting R1m in cash.
Agrizzi was Watson’s right-hand man at Bosasa from 1999. He resigned in 2016.
Former chief operations officer for Bosasa Angelo Agrizzi took the stand for the second time at the state capture inquiry on Thursday January 17 2019, where he detailed how bribe money was moved, stored and paid out by Bosasa.
At the time of the video’s recording, Agrizzi was no longer a Bosasa employee, but he said he knew Van Tonder was recording the video as he was recognisable by his voice, and that he had asked the CFO to make the recording.
Agrizzi was frank when he told the commission that the money kept in Watson’s vault was used exclusively for bribes — to buy over people outside Bosasa, as well as to pay off employees to keep quiet.
Asked by Zondo whether he could say how many contracts Bosasa had with the state in the five or 10 years before he left, Agrizzi said he could not.
"But it was every contract. Every single contract was tainted by bribes and corruption," he testified.
Agrizzi said he would not say that all contracts were awarded based on corruption, but that corruption "crept" in once they were awarded. Extensions of contracts were largely influenced by corruption.
He described bribery as a "trap", as it resulted in people raising their standard of living. "You don’t entrap somebody for life if you pay them one-off. They take their money and they go. Once you start paying people bribes on a monthly basis, you control them 100%."
DA leader Mmusi Maimane called on President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday to cancel all existing government contracts with Bosasa following Agrizzi’s testimony.
In 2018, Ramaphosa admitted that a payment made on behalf of Watson into a trust account was used to fund his campaign to become president of the ANC — after first telling parliament that the money was paid to his son Andile in terms of a valid consulting contract with Bosasa, which he had personally seen.