JOHANNESBURG, January 21 – Bosasa, now trading as African Global Operations, paid a group of Members of Parliament (MPs) monthly bribes in order for them to manage the negative media scrutiny over the company’s tenders it had with the department in which they had oversight, the company’s former chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi said on Monday.
Agrizzi told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry that Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson was paying monthly bribes to the members of the portfolio committee on correctional services, including its then chairperson Vincent Smith, to look the other way when questions were raised about Bosasa’s government contracts.
At the time, Bosasa had a multi-million rand contract with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and Correctional Services for the implementation of access control and surveillance equipment at various courts across the country. But the company was dodged by media scrutiny after the Special Investigating Unit started probing its affairs.
“A decision was made that the parliamentary committee would manage the negative impact of the media coverage on Bosasa so that it wouldn’t impact on future business. It was agreed that MPs Vincent Smith, Vincent Magagula and Winnie Ngwenya would receive monthly cash payments to ensure an end to negative media coverage of Bosasa’s dealings with correctional services,” Agrizzi said.
“Vincent Smith would be paid R45,000, Vincent Magagula would be paid R30,000, and Winnie Ngwenya would be paid R20,000. Even though they didn’t have powers to allocate tenders, they have very strong ability to make life difficult or raise objections.”
Agrizzi said Smith would also intervene when former correctional services commissioner Zach Modise was applying pressure over the favourable attitude towards Bosasa and also assisted during committee meetings in Parliament to ensure favourable decisions towards Bosasa.
Asked to provide specific instances, Agrizzi said he recalled many occasions when he met Smith at a Mugg and Bean, located at mezzanine level in Clearwater Mall, west of Johannesburg, while Ngwenya collected her cash at Bosasa offices together with her husband who drove her there. He said the payments to Magagula and Ngwenya stopped when they were no longer members of the committee.
Agrizzi said that from 2008 to 2016, Bosasa paid R500,000 a month to officials of the correctional services department, but this was later increased to R750,000 a month when Tom Moyane was appointed as the national commissioner to accommodate payments to Moyane and other officials.
Agrizzi said the payments to Smith increased to R100,000 per month. Agrizzi also confirmed that Bosasa installed a security system and a camera system at Smith’s Constantia Kloof house in Roodepoort, which included an alarm system, electric fencing and various other security infrastructural hardware.
Bosasa also paid university fees for Smith’s daughter at Aberswyth University in Wales through a front company. At this instance, Agrizzi denied Smith’s version that he had loaned him the money to pay for his daughter’s university fees.
Earlier in the day, Agrizzi revealed that Environmental Affairs Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, was on a R50,000 monthly retainer, among other benefits she enjoyed from Bosasa. Agrizzi said the alleged R50,000 monthly bribe to Mokonyane took place from the period 2002 until Agrizzi left Bosasa in 2016. (ANA)