South Africa: The Bosasa Billions - the Watsons and the Arson Charges

In January 1987 Valence, Ronnie and Cheeky Watson went on trial for arson, fraud and attempted murder (of two employees who had been severely burnt) after their Port Elizabeth home burnt down. All three denied the charges. Gavin was not charged in the case, but he was questioned by the police. It was a trial unlike anything the Eastern Cape had ever seen. The public gallery was always packed with black supporters of the Watson brothers.

This is an extract from The Bosasa Billions, written by James-Brent Styan and Paul Vecchiatto and published by LAPA.

In 1985 two of the four Watson brothers - Valence and Ronnie - along with their wives, children and parents, were sharing a big family home on 1,5 hectares of land in Port Elizabeth. It was described in the press as a "fourteen-room cliffside mansion".

On 19 October 1985, the house burnt down in a fire that became shrouded in mystery. The Watsons had not been home and two of their employees, Geoffrey Nocanda and Archie Mkele, were found on the grounds, severely burnt.

Gavin Watson, who stayed in a flat not far from his parents, stated at the time that "the two men were...

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