Flights, cash and cars: Here are the charges bringing down the Bosasa empire

Nearly a decade after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) first found evidence of a corrupt and improper relationship between Bosasa and correctional services officials, five men have been arrested.  

Former correctional services chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham, former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi and former Bosasa chief financial officer Andries van Tonder briefly appeared in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday along with former Bosasa senior manager Frans Vorster and current Bosasa staff member, Carlos Bonafacio. 

They are being charged with several counts of money laundering and violations of the Public Finance Management Act as well as the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

The charges relate to four tenders, worth roughly R2bn, which the Department of Correctional Services awarded to Bosasa between May 2004 and December 2005.

The tenders were for catering at prisons around the country, fencing at the same prisons and the provision of televisions for prison cells. The catering contract was allegedly extended unlawfully.

The men were granted bail of R20 000 each and were instructed to hand over their passports.

They are scheduled to appear in court again on March 27. 

The charges stem directly from the SIU's findings in 2009. News24 previously reported that the SIU report was handed over to the NPA in 2010 but there was an inordinate delay in prosecution and arrests as a result of political interference.

READ: New life for Bosasa prosecution after 8-year delay 

While the name of former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti appeared on a 66-page draft charge sheet seen by News24, he was not among those in the dock on Wednesday. 

News24 understands that Mti was arrested in the Eastern Cape and that he was expected to be taken to Pretoria to appear along with his co-accused at their next court date.

Three companies, namely African Global Operations (formerly Bosasa) and two Bosasa subsidiaries, Sondolo IT and Phezulu Fencing, were also included in the charge sheet.

Speaking to the media outside court, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi refused to confirm that Mti was Accused Number One. He said that by law, he could only confirm the identity of the accused once the person had appeared in court. 

The charge sheet details the charges as follows:

Accused One: Linda Mti

- Six counts of contravening the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act in that Mti "did unlawfully, willfully or in a grossly negligent manner fail to comply" with the act in his capacity as the accounting officer for the correctional services department, and failing to exercise his duty to ensure the funds of the department were used with due care.   

- One count of contravening the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act for accepting gifts from Bosasa in the shape of flight tickets, car rentals and accommodation for himself and his family in exchange for a "failure to ensure compliance with procurement processes and Treasury regulations" to ensure the four contracts were awarded to Bosasa. The gifts were valued at R975 000 between May 2005 and July 2015.

- Bosasa staff also allegedly deposited cash into Mti's account amounting to R122 235 between March 2004 and December 2007.

Patrick O' Connell Gillingham. (Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24)

Accused Two: Patrick Gillingham

- One count of contravening the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act in respect of gifts he accepted from Bosasa between April 2004 and April 2007 in exchange for colluding with Agrizzi and Bosasa's Danny Mansell to draft and compile bid specifications which were then used to award the tenders to Bosasa. 

- Five counts of money laundering for the manner in which transactions were made for the purchase of vehicles for Gillingham and his family.

ALSO READ: Gillingham to Bosasa bosses: 'Mercedes Benz please'

Accused three to seven: Agrizzi, Van Tonder and the Bosasa Companies

- One count of contravening the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act in respect of gifts for Gillingham, which included plane tickets, a trip to Europe for Gillingham and his daughter, car hire, the purchase of cars for Gillingham, his wife, daughter and son, as well as the cost of a luxury home in Midstream for Gillingham. Bosasa also paid for a luxury kitchen and furnishings for the home.

- Five counts of money laundering for the manner in which transactions were made for the purchase of vehicles for Gillingham and his family. 

Arrests welcomed

The head of the SIU, advocate Andy Mothibi, welcomed the arrests.

"This will ensure that those involved will be held accountable," he said.

The Public Servants Association (PSA) has also reacted to the arrests, welcoming the "decisive action" of the Hawks.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the union, which represents around 13 000 Department of Correctional Services, "demands that all tainted contracts given irregularly to Bosasas be terminated with immediate effect".

Meanwhile, Mulaudzi also brushed aside questions about why the Hawks had chosen to act now. 

"Let's just all be glad something is being done," he said. 

In recent weeks, Agrizzi detailed shocking allegations of Bosasa corruption involving ministers and senior government officials during nine days of marathon testimony before the state capture commission of inquiry.

His co-accused, Van Tonder, also appeared before the commission. Both men implicated themselves in fraud, bribery and corruption in exchange for securing yet more tenders from the government. 

A conservative estimate calculated from Treasury data, shows various government departments, including correctional services, home affairs and social development, paid Bosasa more than R12bn for services rendered between 2004 and 2019.

*This article was updated to include information on two other individuals who were charged, Frans Vorster and Carlos Bonafacio.

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