23 January 2019

South Africa: #StateCapture - 'Even the Pope Would Have Been Corrupted' - Agrizzi

So intense was the heat at the coalface of the Bosasa bribery empire "even the Pope would have been corrupted".

This according to Angelo Agrizzi, the former Bosasa chief operations officer turned whistleblower, whose marathon testimony before the state capture commission of inquiry wrapped up its fifth day on Tuesday.

Agrizzi took to the stand last Wednesday under a cloud of secrecy, spun for his protection, to deliver damning revelations from the heart of Bosasa - which has been revealed as a tender machine that bribed its way into lucrative government contracts.

Tuesday's affairs were far removed from the electrically charged atmosphere of the previous four days, and in the dying minutes of the day, tempers flared between evidence leader Advocate Paul Pretorius and Agrizzi, causing commission chairman deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo to intervene and eventually call a halt to proceedings for the day.

Agrizzi did however deliver damning confirmation of media revelations and findings of a Special Investigating Unit report over the relationship Bosasa held with correctional services officials, which could likely be a key part of testimony needed by prosecutors to take a decade-old case to court.

Agrizzi grew flustered and frustrated when he could not find a certain paragraph Pretorius was referring to in a 2009 Special Investigating Unit report. He accused Pretorius of confusing him, and Pretorius responded by saying he was in fact, reading in sequence.

Zondo stepped in and it was decided the testimony would continue on Wednesday.

For most of Tuesday, Agrizzi dealt with the improper relationship between Bosasa and former prisons officials Linda Mti and Patrick Gillingham in detail.

He also revealed how he had participated in the destruction of evidence following media reports and a tip-off that the SIU was planning a raid on Bosasa's offices.

This included taking documents and computers from the Bosasa travel agent's offices to a construction site where they were set alight and then buried using a front-end loader.

The travel records would have revealed how top government officials had travelled and holidayed on Bosasa's tab.

His testimony confirmed media reports from 2009 over certain events surrounding correctional services tenders, which formed the basis of the SIU investigation.

Mti, the former commissioner, and Gillingham, the former chief financial officer, received an extensive list of gifts, cash payments, cars, houses and other bribes in exchange for correctional services tenders.

Bosasa knew months ahead of time about the tenders, was involved in drawing up the specifications for the tenders and were indeed awarded at least four tenders between 2004 and 2006 by Correctional Services, including a lucrative fencing tender at prisons around the country and a catering contract for the same prisons.

Agrizzi revealed in detail how a number of senior DCS officials, including Zach Modise and Mnikelwa Nxele, the KZN regional commissioner, were paid monthly cash bribes for years in exchange for ongoing contracts being awarded to Bosasa.

On Wednesday Pretorius will walk Agrizzi through the SIU report, which he described as "corroborating evidence" to Agrizzi's testimony over the corruption involving correctional services.

The SIU finalised the report in 2009, and it was handed to the NPA and the Hawks in early 2010.

The case has experienced an inordinate delay, with allegations surfacing that senior NPA officials Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi were bribed to stymie the case.

They have both denied ever receiving any cash from Bosasa.

Last week, the Hawks confirmed its investigation was finalised, while the NPA said prosecutors were studying the full docket and would soon decide on charges.

Source: News24

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