Angelo Agrizzi prepares to take the witness stand at the the state capture commission of inquiry on Thurdsday March 28 2019. Picture: THE TIMES/ALON SKUY
Angelo Agrizzi prepares to take the witness stand at the the state capture commission of inquiry on Thurdsday March 28 2019. Picture: THE TIMES/ALON SKUY

Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi says the controversial facilities management company effectively kept environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane on a corrupt retainer — paying her with cash, property maintenance and food — because of the huge power she wielded.

Now he has suggested that Mokonyane, who says she will testify at the Zondo inquiry into state capture to clear her name, may have been given such benefits, so that she would make a key environmental decision in favor of members of the Watson family.

Gavin Watson is the CEO of Bosasa.

Agrizzi on Thursday raised questions about Mokonyane’s role in adjudicating an ongoing wind farm environmental dispute that directly involves the Watson family.

The Inyanda-Roodeplaat Wind Energy Facility is an Eastern Cape wind farm project that the family want to build on top of a mountain, in an area regarded as extremely environmentally sensitive.

Nomvula Mokonyane . Photo: RUVAN BOSHOFF
Nomvula Mokonyane . Photo: RUVAN BOSHOFF

While the farm received the go-ahead from the department of environmental affairs in 2018 last year, that decision is now being appealed. And it is Mokonyane who must make the call on that appeal. She says there is no conflict of interest involved in her adjudication of the dispute, and will not recuse herself.

Agrizzi, who says he personally witnessed Mokonyane receiving a R50,000 monthly cash bribe from Bosasa on two occasions, is understood to be assisting the Hawks — through his lawyers — in the unit’s ongoing corruption investigation against Mokonyane.

The Hawks have confirmed that Agrizzi is assisting them with two cases, but would not comment on the identity of those being investigated. 

Despite the allegations against her, Mokonyane remains a powerful figure in the ANC and is tenth on the ruling governing party’s candidates list for the upcoming national elections. She maintains Agrizzi’s evidence is inaccurate, but has yet to provide a substantive response to the evidence he has given allegations against her.

Agrizzi has again reiterated that Bosasa provided the ANC with a “war room” and call centres during the 2014 and 2016 elections, and hosted a number of ministers and high-ranking officials there. He testified that, in one instance, the company paid for such election expenses by making fraudulent claims for IT equipment intended for use by awaiting-trial children. The equipment was never delivered.

The ANC maintains it will not comment on the evidence emerging at before the Zondo inquiry but will make a substantial submission to deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.

Agrizzi on Thursday yesterday handed in a 2012 e-mail he allegedly received from Mokonyane in which he says she forwarded demands for equipment to him.

"Some people are very powerful in politics. It's scary because people have the ability to do a lot of things … She was very powerful. I was told categorically that you don’t mess, you just do, you don’t argue,” Agrizzi said.

He testified that Bosasa assisted Mokonyane, who ascended from an MEC position to premier to minister during the term of former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure, with everything from rental cars to home security and gardening maintenance.

This, he says, was because of the power Mokonyane had allegedly wielded over Zuma and other powerful officials within the government, as well as the National Prosecuting Authority — which sat on evidence of apparent Bosasa corruption for a decade without taking any action.