Bosasa just keeps on scoring

2011-03-20 06:10

The Krugersdorp-based Bosasa group has not only benefited royally from the correctional services department but has ­also won multimillion-rand tenders from at least three other national government departments in the past seven years.

The Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) probe into Bosasa focused on four tenders for the prisons department: catering, security equipment, fencing and TVs in prisons.

The total value of these tenders, according to the SIU, was R1.5?billion. The unit claims that Bosasa benefited from having an “improper and corrupt” relationship with the prisons department.

City Press has established that companies in the Bosasa group have won tenders from the national departments of justice, transport and home affairs.

The company also runs youth centres for child offenders in Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Eastern, Northern and Western Cape, and provides security services to the police and the Airports Company of South Africa.

The company’s first government tender was with the Department of Home Affairs to establish a repatriation camp for illegal foreign nationals.

Bosasa has been running the Lindela repatriation camp outside Krugersdorp since the late 1990s. At the time Bosasa was also providing catering services to mines on the West Rand.

Since the early 2000s the company has been actively chasing government work, and its big breakthrough came in 2004 when the Department of Correctional Services decided to outsource its catering services.

Up to that time, prison warders and inmates had been preparing the meals and had often used fresh produce grown on prison farms.

Included in the catering tender was the requirement to also provide CCTV cameras and off-site control rooms for prison kitchens.

A former Bosasa employee interviewed by the SIU told how Bosasa “irregularly participated in drafting the specifications” for this tender, which gave it a “clear advantage” over other bidders.

The fact that the SIU’s investigation of Bosasa was widely publicised from 2007 did not deter government departments from doing business with the group.

» In 2008 the justice department awarded Sondolo IT, a Bosasa affiliate company, a R600-million tender for the provision and installation of security equipment in courts countrywide.

» Late last year Bosasa Security was one of six companies awarded a tender by the justice department for the safeguarding of courts and offices and employees of the National Prosecuting Authority. Bosasa got the biggest slice of the contract – work worth R391?million in all nine provinces.

» In August last year the National Treasury appointed Kgwerano Financial Services, a Bosasa subsidiary, as service provider for the maintenance and administration of government’s subsidised ­vehicle fleet. This was the second time Bosasa had managed to win the tender – in 2006 it formed a joint venture with Avis to win the same contract from the transport department.

In 2004 Kgwerano Asset Finance, a joint venture between Bosasa and Wesbank, won a transport contract to procure vehicles for public office bearers.

In 2006 Beeld reported that former president Thabo Mbeki’s political adviser, Titus Mafolo, was a shareholder of Sondolo IT through his shareholding in Bancar Investment Holdings. Seth Phalatse, former chairperson of the Strategic Fuel Fund, was a shareholder in Sondolo, through Kgwerano Financial Services, before the company sold its shares to Bosasa Operations in 2007.

The history of Bosasa
According to the SIU report, former Springbok athlete Fanie van Zijl registered a company called Emafini (Pty) Ltd in 1981.

In December 1984, Jurgen Smith was appointed to Emafini as a director. In February 1985 Emafini changed its name to Meritum Hostels (Pty) Ltd.

In June 1996 Meritum entered into a pre-incorporation agreement with the Dyambu Trust, which was controlled by the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL). Danny Mansell, who would later become a consultant to Bosasa, signed as a witness to the agreement.

As a result of the agreement, Meritum changed its name to Dyambu Operations (Pty) Ltd. The current Bosasa CEO, Gavin Watson, subsequently became a director.

In November 2000 Dyambu Operations changed to Bosasa Operations (Pty) Ltd.

The ANCWL is no longer a shareholder of Bosasa.

Watson is the chief executive of Bosasa, but keeps a low profile and lets his chief of operations, Angelo Agrizzi, run the day-to-day activities.

Both talk openly about their Christianity and have initiated a prayer meeting early every morning at work. This has upset former employees, who told City Press: “The one moment we all look holy and pray together, the next moment we are cooking tenders.”

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