23 January 2019

South Africa: Panic Stations At Bosasa? Staff Instructed Not to Speak With Zondo Commission Without Company Lawyer

Employees of African Global Operations (AGO), formerly known as Bosasa, have been instructed to "remain calm" and immediately inform a director of the company if they are contacted by any member of the state capture commission of inquiry.

The Bosasa director would then inform the company's senior legal counsel.

"If any staff member gets (sic) contacted by the state capture commission, please take the details of the caller (name, surname and contact details) and immediately pass the information to Mrs Jackie Leyds...for onward transmission to our senior counsel," the memo reads.

A cellphone number for Leyds is also provided, which News24 has confirmed has been used by Leyds in the past.

Not an instruction

AGO spokesperson and director, Papa Leshabane, has denied that the content of the memo constitutes an instruction to staff to not speak with the commission.

Leyds is a director at the company and it's understood he is partly responsible for the management of the various youth centres the business operates on behalf of the Department of Social Development.

"As you are all aware, the company, its directors and some members of staff have been accused of all manner of wrongdoing by Mr Angelo Agrizzi before the state capture commission," the memo reads.

Agrizzi, former Bosasa chief operations officer, took the stand at the commission last Wednesday and has since delivered damning testimony of how Bosasa allegedly operated what can be equated to a tender racket.

Executives of the Krugersdorp-based company, including CEO Gavin Watson, have been named by Agrizzi as having paid cash bribes to various government officials and politicians in exchange for lucrative tenders, particularly in the Department of Correctional Services.

The contracts included catering for prisoners and the installation of high-security fencing at prisons around the country.

The value of contracts awarded to Bosasa between 2001 and 2014 run into billions.

"The company and affected staff have been advised by senior counsel that it is inappropriate for the company to comment on these allegations at this stage. The company will accordingly not for the moment respond to these allegations at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum," the memo reads.

"In the interim, we urge all staff members to remain calm and continue going about your daily tasks in your usual, efficient manner," it concludes.

Support

Leshabane told News24 on Wednesday that the instruction was "by no means intended to stop anyone speaking to the commission if they so wish".

"This shows from those who give you internal company information, they don't seek our permission to do so," he said.

Instead, he explained, the company was doing "all we can to support everyone who needs legal assistance".

"On Sunday, you asked if the executive was receiving questions from concerned staff, you asked how staff was holding up. At this time, we are doing all we can to support everyone who needs legal assistance," Leshabane said via text message.

"Our co-operation with the commission is unwavering, however, I am wondering if one is falsely accused, are they not allowed to consult counsel?" he said.

Source: News24

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