Agrizzi testimony gives NPA key piece of evidence its needs to prosecute, after 8-year delay

2019-01-18 20:59
Former Bosasa Chief Operations Officer Angelo Agrizzi testifies at the Raymond Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. (Alaister Russell, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

Former Bosasa Chief Operations Officer Angelo Agrizzi testifies at the Raymond Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. (Alaister Russell, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

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Bosasa's former chief operating officer delivered a key piece of evidence to the state capture commission of inquiry on Friday about a case the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been dragging its feet on for the last eight years.

For years, the NPA and the Hawks were presented with allegations of bribery and corruption involving prison officials and Bosasa. 

Then, on Friday, Angelo Agrizzi told the state capture commission that he personally paid former prison boss Patrick Gillingham.

Agrizzi appeared exhausted and complained to commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that he was unable to feel the cool air from the air conditioner.

He testified that Gillingham used to receive R47 000 per month from Bosasa while he was still employed by the Department of Correctional Services. However, when he left, Bosasa paid him R110 000.

News24 reported previously that Bosasa allegedly bribed Gillingham, who was the department's chief financial officer, and prison boss Linda Mti to secure four tenders between 2004 and 2007, worth roughly R1.5bn, including the supply of televisions and fencing at prisons around the country, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found.

A statement written by former Bosasa auditor, Peet Venter, which was read out by evidence leader Paul Pretorius, revealed details of bribes to Gillingham.

READ: OVERVIEW: #Statecaptureinquiry adjourns for the day with exhausted Agrizzi complaining about not feeling the air conditioning

"Mark Taverner, Gavin Watson's brother in law, retains Patrick Gillingham on the payroll of BEE foods at a salary of R65 000 a month and a company car, Mercedes GLA 200 over and above his R110 000 a month cash bribe," according to the statement.

Pretorius asked Agrizzi: "During the period of his employment at correctional services, was Patrick Gillingham paid by Bosasa?" 

"Yes, he was," Agrizzi answered.

News24 previously reported that in 2009, the SIU finalised a report into alleged tender rigging involving Bosasa directors and CEO Gavin Watson and the Department of Correctional Services.

The SIU report was handed over to the NPA in 2010 and a docket was registered.

To date, none of the accused - who all steadfastly maintained their innocence - have had their day in court.

Venter's statement also mentioned that on "previous occasions the servers at Bosasa 'crashed' resulting in a massive data loss. Pursuant to years [of] dealing with Mr Gavin Watson, I learnt that he had arranged the crash to stop SIU getting information."

Responding to this, Agrizzi said the SIU gave Bosasa a list of items they wanted to mirror on the server. 

ALSO READ: North West ANC benefitted from money laundering, Zondo commission hears

"We said they could come in the next couple of days. What we had orchestrated a month or so before was a full data crash of the server, but it seems the SIU guys were a bit brighter than our IT guys and they managed to find some evidence," Agrizzi testified.

Earlier on Friday, Agrizzi also laid bare Bosasa's "corrupt" dealings, explaining to Zondo how Bosasa obtained money.

He said the company raised fake invoices which had no VAT numbers.

The company would also regenerate invoices and not use them more than once or twice.

He also mentioned an events company, saying invoices were booked to this company to avoid revenue queries. He also told the commission that there was a time when a deceased person's name was used on an invoice.

He said invoices were pushed through various companies, such as Jumbo Liquor. 

The liquor would never be delivered but Bosasa would pay Jumbo and Jumbo would deliver cash to Bosasa, not liquor, he said during his testimony. 

He also told the commission about the death benefit fund they had allegedly established for employees.  

"At one stage, employees were having a lot of trouble losing family members to natural causes. We established a death benefit fund, I implemented the scheme to try and assist. 

"Death certificates always delayed [so] we would pay an advance payment to the bereaved person, instead of waiting for Metropolitan to do all its checks."

He said once the actual death benefit would pay out through the service providers such as Metropolitan, the initial cash withdrawal made by Bosasa would be used for bribes.

He said these appeared as normal transactions.

Read more on:    bosasa  |  state capture commission of inquiry

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