State Capture: Former COO says he joined Bosasa because it was 'run on Christian principles' but later realised it was 'more like a cult'

2019-01-16 15:54
Angelo Agrizzi, the former chief operations officer of the controversial Bosasa group of companies is at the state capture inquiry. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Angelo Agrizzi, the former chief operations officer of the controversial Bosasa group of companies is at the state capture inquiry. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Evidence from Angelo Agrizzi, the former chief operations officer of controversial company Bosasa, is yet to deliver on its promise of explosive revelations of bribery and corruption. 

In the first few hours of his testimony on Wednesday morning, Agrizzi was taken through the history of Dyambu Holdings and how he came to be employed by the company which later morphed into Bosasa. 

Dyambu was an ANC Women's League front company in the late 1990s, but the league's shareholders got rid of their interest in the company when the ANC took a decision that it would not hold direct interests in companies. 

Arguably the biggest revelation came from evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius and related to a meeting on September 23, 2015, between Agrizzi, Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson and former SAA chairperson and head of the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Dudu Myeni.

According to Pretorius, the meeting, during which Agrizzi and Watson were presented with documents by Myeni, took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria. 

The confidential National Prosecuting Authority documents relating to the ongoing investigation and prosecution of Bosasa executives and correctional services department officials were photographed. 

The pictures showed a carpet pattern which investigators were able to confirm matched that of the Sheraton, and the same investigators were able to confirm that Myeni stayed at the hotel on the same day. 

News24 has seen at least one of these documents. Agrizzi will deal with the meeting in more detail at a later stage.

Agrizzi said one of the deciding factors in his choosing to join Bosasa in 1999 (then named Dyambu) was that he understood the company was run according to Christian principles. 

The company would hold prayer meetings once a week, which would later include daily prayer meetings and sometimes all-night prayer vigils. 

But Agrizzi said this became a mockery in his eyes and Bosasa was "more like a cult" as a result of this. 

Bribing of union officials

Agrizzi testified that as far back as 1999 he became aware that Watson was bribing union officials at mines to "support" Dyambu in its efforts to take over massive catering contracts from other companies. 

He mentioned Jackson Mafika, head of the National Union of Mineworkers in the area at the time.

Mafika was gunned down outside his home in Westonaria in 2013. 

The alleged bribes and Agrizzi's departure from his previous company, Dyambu competitor Molope Foods, ensured that Dyambu clinched a key deal with Goldfields mine to provide catering at three mines.

Agrizzi testified that between 1999 and 2004 his salary was paid in two portions – a smaller amount to him and a larger amount to his wife. 

This was done to ensure a lower overall amount of tax due to the South African Revenue Service (SARS). 

In addition, Agrizzi received cash payments over and above his salary, which were not declared to SARS. 

News24 understands that Agrizzi was not the only Bosasa executive to be paid in this way. 

In his affidavit to the commission, which outlines his evidence, he added a table which details his earnings from Bosasa between 1999 and 2017. 

The gifts included holidays to Italy and Mauritius and tickets to the F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, among others.

Agrizzi's evidence continues. 

Read more on:    bosasa  |  angelo agrizzi  |  state capture
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