Inside the Belly of the Beast by Angelo Agrizzi
Truth be Told Publishing
I knew Gavin Watson for well over 19 years, and we must have spent up to 16 hours in contact with each other every day. While many people thought our relationship was close because we spent so much time in each other’s presence, it wasn’t.
In fact, I spent a significant amount of time checking in with myself, making sure that I did not allow him to get to me, or that familiarity would breed contempt. The thing is, I realised, from early on, that Gavin was a user. He reminded me of a vampire. I watched how he treated those he called his friends – people who were, in truth, nothing more than business associates, and moveable pawns.
His memorial service in Johannesburg took on the form of a business presentation, with Papa Leshabane playing the role of master of ceremonies.
Jacob Zuma, who also made an appearance, referred to Gavin as “a comrade and a friend”, adding: “The reports that the family gave me have a number of gaps in the manner in which Comrade Gavin was found and how he died. Since the investigation is still ongoing, I hope there will be a report that will satisfy all of us.”
While some suspected Gavin’s death to have been an assassination, many thought it was a suicide.
When News24 journalist Kyle Cowan explained that Gavin had lost control of his vehicle before crashing into the pylon near OR Tambo International Airport, I was shocked – not because Gavin had crashed (Gavin wasn’t the best driver), but because he was behind the wheel of one of the company’s pool vehicles, a low-spec, manual-drive Toyota Corolla.
Why didn’t he just take one of the many German luxury sedans parked at the Bosasa offices, all with sophisticated safety and tracking systems?
There were no less than 12 other vehicles, ranging from double-cab premiums to a Mercedes E-class, available for him to choose from. Why did he not take one of his favourites, the BMW, which was, according to remote diagnostics performed after the accident, in perfect running condition? After all, he was driving around in it the day before the accident.
Gavin couldn’t stand driving manuals – in fact, he could hardly drive a car with a manual transmission. Why, when there were other vehicles available, did he opt for this one?
The Corolla didn’t even have a tracking device. In all the time I knew and worked with him, Gavin would have a fit if I hired anything less than an E-Class or a 5-Series BMW for us to drive around in when we were travelling for business. I’ll never forget how he once made me return an Avis rental because it was a lower-group vehicle.
Why was Gavin driving at that unearthly hour of the morning? In a Toyota Corolla? And why was he even driving to the airport? He certainly wasn’t flying anywhere because there were no tickets booked under his name on any airline.
The earliest flight he could have taken would have been at 7am. If he was travelling to Port Elizabeth, his flight would be booked for 10am or later. Was he dropping somebody off instead? That might explain why his briefcase and cellphone were missing, and why his last activity on WhatsApp was at 4.30am.
Gavin was a real pest when it came to money – he always wanted a substantial amount of cash on him. When he died, reports stated that he had R70 in his wallet. I don’t believe that for one second. He would have had at least R30 000 in his briefcase.
Strangely, one of the first responders on the scene was an employee of a security company. Was his car ransacked before the paramedics arrived? There were allegations that his cellphone was in my possession, that I killed him and that his death was staged.
In other reports, his cellphone was tracked to just outside Germiston, close to where my brother works. Was someone trying to frame him too? Whatever the rumours, perhaps it is those making the loudest rumblings that should be questioned.
Looking at the vehicle itself, the passenger side – barring the deployed airbags – was remarkably intact, so if there was a passenger, who was it? And if there was, why did they flee the scene?
I found it odd, after viewing photographs of the accident scene (and of Gavin’s body in particular), that there was so little blood, despite the obvious gash to his carotid artery. Other than the wound to his neck, his face and body were largely unscathed. He was slumped over the steering wheel, both hands holding on to it, his seatbelt plugged in behind him.
Was he killed before the time and then placed in that position before driving into the concrete pylon? Did he have an argument with somebody the previous evening that ended badly?
Could someone else have driven the car at high speed and jumped out just before it crashed? Was Gavin’s body perhaps placed inside the smashed Corolla after the fact, having been transported to the scene in another vehicle?
There have even been rumoured reports that Gavin Watson is still alive. In March 2020, a private detective doing unrelated work in the Maldives claims to have seen a man on three occasions – who he is convinced is Gavin Watson – now going under the name of Michael Johnson and travelling on an American passport.
While the conspiracy theories of a cover-up abound, one irrevocable fact remains – Gavin Joseph Watson is no more. Was his death premeditated? Possibly. Was it suicide?
Personally, I think Gavin was too much of a narcissist to take his own life – he was far too proud to be another Brett Kebble. But I could be wrong.
The truth of the matter is that something was going to give eventually. The situation was a pressure cooker waiting to explode.
While Gavin was invited to oppose my testimony at the Zondo commission, he chose not to. Not once did he dispute the submissions made.
There is no doubt that Bosasa was a fully fronted BEE company. If he did indeed end his life, perhaps his conscience eventually got the better of him. As he said in one of his messages to me before his untimely demise: “I was wrong, I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
Unfortunately, we cannot turn back time, but, as with the many other tragedies that have unfolded throughout history, Gavin’s life – and his death – is a lesson to me (and hopefully many others) on how not to do things.
With the final curtain drawn, I have come to believe that Gavin Watson was – nothing more and nothing less – a mirror to the beast that resides in all of us.