Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi prepares to give testimony at the commission into state capture in Parktown, Johannesburg. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/SUNDAY TIMES
Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi prepares to give testimony at the commission into state capture in Parktown, Johannesburg. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/SUNDAY TIMES

Almost three years ago revelations that the Gupta family was influencing government appointments and tenders shocked the nation. But after hearing testimony last week from former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi at the state capture inquiry, it is quite clear that the state was captured  long ago.

Agrizzi, who was right-hand man to Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson from 1999 to 2016, when he resigned, has blown the lid on how the facilities management company paid millions of rands in bribes in order to secure government tenders, laundered money and ensured state funds were indirectly channelled to the governing party for election campaigning.

Between R4m and R6m a month was being paid in bribes, says the former Bosasa employee.

One of the most worrying statements from Agrizzi was that every single government tender with Bosasa was tainted by bribes and corruption, without exception.

His testimony seems to have sent many into panic. According to the commission it implicates 38 officials from state-owned entities, government officials, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials, unionists and politicians.

Agrizzi testified that even one of the commission’s very own — secretary Khotso de Wee — had allegedly received a bribe during his tenure as department of justice COO. The tender was for security systems in various courts in 2013. De Wee has taken special leave from the commission pending an investigation into the allegations.

One of the most worrying statements from Agrizzi was that every single government tender with Bosasa was tainted by bribes and corruption, without exception.

Agrizzi, however, 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.

This is not the first time Bosasa, now African Global Operations, has been implicated in allegations of corruption, but for years this has been ignored.

NPA officials were allegedly bribed in an effort to avoid prosecution.

So what now? If President Cyril Ramaphosa is serious about good transparent governance and cleaning up the state after years of looting, will he look at having all those contracts investigated and cancelled?

Will he ensure those implicated are removed?

Ramaphosa himself has been linked to Watson, who donated money towards his campaign to become ANC president. But Ramaphosa has said he was not aware the donation came from Watson.

The clean-up of the state has been sharply focused on removing those who were linked to the Guptas and former president Jacob Zuma. Now Ramaphosa will be forced to look beyond that and even cut loose some of those who were aligned to him.

The key question is whether he will be able to put the country above politics, especially ahead of the crucial 2019 general elections.

The governing ANC and the state has been quiet since Agrizzi’s revelations. These are allegations made by a man who was intricately involved in this widespread corruption and would still need to be investigated.

But is there political will to see this through?

Next month new NPA boss Shamila Batohi starts her term at the prosecuting authority. Batohi will have her hands full. In the past the NPA has been wracked by political interference, hence why we find ourselves in the position we are in.

It is yet to be seen whether she will be given the space and independence to do what the country expects of her — to prosecute those who have contributed to the ultimate capture and looting of SA.