Michael Masutha. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Michael Masutha. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) will seek approval from President Cyril Ramaphosa to extend its 2009 Bosasa investigation so that it can probe the explosive new evidence that has emerged against the disgraced facilities company at the state capture inquiry.

The SIU’s head, advocate Andy Mothibi, said on Monday that the unit’s governance committee is already monitoring the evidence led at the Zondo commission.

“We have obtained the necessary documentation, including related affidavits, through the commission channels. We are interacting with the National Treasury, specifically to assess and validate some of the evidence or testimony … in particular, in connection with Bosasa agreements,” he said.

This related to the testimony of Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi and other witnesses. It emerged at the state capture inquiry that the facilities company allegedly bribed government officials to win state contracts worth billions of rand. Bosasa has now applied for voluntary liquidation after commercial banks pulled the plug on its accounts.

The SIU completed a report in 2019 on alleged tender rigging involving Bosasa and senior correctional services officials, including the then national commissioner Linda Mti and CFO Patrick Gillingham.

But that report, which recommended the criminal prosecution of Mti, Gillingham and Bosasa officials — including Agrizzi — was not acted on for nearly a decade. This, Agrizzi has claimed, is because Bosasa bribed now suspended prosecutions bosses Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi. They deny this.

Mti, Gillingham, Agrizzi and former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder recently appeared in court on charges of money laundering and corruption. They, with Frans Vorster and Carlos Bonifacio — who were charged separately in another Bosasa-related case — were released on R20,000 bail each.

The new evidence can only be probed by the SIU, which specifically investigates and litigates for the cancellation of dodgy contracts and the recovery of monies linked to them, if the president approves the unit’s application.

“Once the president is satisfied and signs off, it’ll then be gazetted,” Mothibi said after confirming that the SIU has yet to make such an application.

The presidency announced on Sunday that Ramaphosa has established a special tribunal aimed at fast-tracking the recovery of money linked to allegedly dodgy tenders.

Justice minister Michael Masutha was forced to defend on Monday his department’s failure to take action or recover money linked to the alleged tender-rigging exposed in the 2009 SIU report on Bosasa.

While stating that he has expressed his unhappiness to new prosecutions head Shamila Batohi about the state’s decade-long delay in pursuing criminal charges against those implicated in the report, Masutha defended his department’s decision not to pursue Bosasa.

“When I studied the report of the SIU of 2009, it does not outline in any manner, with any detail, how the state was put out of pocket, so as to determine the quantum that you would then want to recover.”

He added that the “civil aspect of recovery can only be based on actual loss incurred”.

Masutha revealed that his department had no choice but to continue allowing a Bosasa-linked company to protect courts, but had cancelled its last correctional services contract with the disgraced company.

He said that the department of justice & correctional services had already spent about R1bn on security contracts with Bosasa company Sondolo IT. These contracts were for the provision of CCTV services, including for the monitoring of “identified high-risk court buildings”.

His department’s security management “failed to prepare a business case and the requisite tender documents on time for the procurement of these services” when the latest Sondolo IT contract ended in 2018, he said.

The company consequently continued to provide services to courts “on a month-to-month basis, pending the finalisation of the necessary business case”.