Why Agrizzi is spilling the beans now

2019-01-18 06:00
Linda Mti. Picture: Deaan Vivier

Linda Mti. Picture: Deaan Vivier

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One of the biggest questions surrounding the testimony of former Bosasa director Angelo Agrizzi at the state capture commission of inquiry is why: Why is Agrizzi taking the risk to reveal all?

Agrizzi has claimed that it is related to a near death experience he had towards the end of 2016. A tumour on his heart resulted in a risky surgery and a short stint in a coma for the businessman. After this and during his recovery, he claims to have seen the light and wanted out of the wrongs of Bosasa, where he had been for nearly 19 years at that stage. 

There may however, be another reason.

News24 understands from three sources with knowledge of the matter that Agrizzi is in the process of obtaining Section 204 indemnity.

This relates to the prosecution of Bosasa executives and former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti and the department's chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham.

Agrizzi and Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson were fingered by a 2009 Special Investigating Unit report that revealed how they had participated in bribing Mti and Gillingham. This included the building of houses, cars, season rugby tickets and cash payments.

The matter has experienced inordinate delays while at the NPA, which News24 has reported on previously. Section 204 witnesses are more commonly known as state witnesses, and can be granted indemnity by the courts in exchange for their testimony against their co-accused.

But this is a double-edged sword. The witness will inevitably implicate themselves in the crimes that were committed and it's left to the court to determine whether or not the testimony was credible. If the court finds gaping holes in the story, the witness could be prosecuted along with their co-accused – now with the added bulk of their own evidence being added to their troubles.

In short, this means that Agrizzi cannot afford to lie.

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku would not confirm or deny that Agrizzi was in the process of obtaining a Section 204 deal.

"Issues relating to 204's are sensitive issues that cannot be divulged to the media before the commencement of the trial," Mfaku said.

In short – Agrizzi wants to keep himself out of jail. He may not hold on to the majority of his assets, but indemnity will ensure he won't have to swap his expensive suits for an orange jumpsuit.

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