I fired Bosasa, Agrizzi as clients, says PR practitioner named at #StateCaptureInquiry

2019-01-28 14:44
Angelo Agrizzi has testified before the State Capture Inquiry. (Alaister Russell, Sowetan, Gallo Images, file)

Angelo Agrizzi has testified before the State Capture Inquiry. (Alaister Russell, Sowetan, Gallo Images, file)

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Communications practitioner Stephen Laufer says it was he who fired facilities management company Bosasa as a client when allegedly asked to undertake "unethical activities" by the company.

Laufer was named by former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi in his testimony before the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday.

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Agrizzi told the commission that Laufer and Benedicta Dube were allegedly "hired" as public relations people by the company to discredit journalists who were writing negative articles about Bosasa.

He also named three journalists who he claimed had been paid to write positive stories about Bosasa. He said they were paid by Bosasa spokesperson Papa Leshabane.

They were writer Pinky Khoabane, a journalist named "Ntuli" and another Eastern Cape-based journalist known only as "Bongs", he said.

"Bosasa approached me to assist them with media relations in late 2006," Laufer responded in a statement on Monday.

"As is the case with the many dozens of other companies and institutions I have supported with communications advice since 2001, I drafted a media strategy aimed at showcasing the company's activities and successes.

"I was clear from day one in my discussions with senior Bosasa executives, including particularly Angelo Agrizzi, that I was not available for any work which was either illegitimate, illegal, or underhand."

Journalist responds

He said he would only assist the company for as long as the task was to portray it "in as positive a light as possible based on the facts of its work".

"I was open to all of my many journalistic contacts that Bosasa was a client in the same way as I have never hidden the names of other clients from any media representative.

"The relationship with Bosasa ended in late 2007. I drew the line when I was asked to undertake what for me were clearly unethical activities directed against specific journalists named by Mr Agrizzi.

"I fired Mr Agrizzi and his company immediately as clients. Mr Agrizzi is well aware of all of this."

He said he would be very happy to make himself available to the commission if required.

Khoabane also responded to the claims on Twitter.

"I have never met Angelo Agrizzi. I simply reported on his racist rants and his links. I will make a submission to @StateCaptureCom," she tweeted.

In a later tweet, she said she could only apply for the right to cross-examine Agrizzi at the commission, with no dates set, and write in a complaint.

She will respond at 06:30 on Morning Live on Tuesday.

Agrizzi's testimony continued on Monday.

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Read more on:    bosasa  |  angelo agrizzi  |  state capture inquiry
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