ANC Member of Parliament Vincent Smith has stepped out of the constitutional review committee on land expropriation to deal with allegations that he accepted nearly R800 000 in cash and gifts from the controversial Bosasa group.
Smith chairs the joint Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) on amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.
Last week, he was appointed to chair the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services and has served as a member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
Smith confirmed to News24 that he excused himself on Tuesday morning, so that he could work on finalising a statement in response to an article published in City Press over the weekend detailing the alleged bribes.
A News24 report published in City Press on Sunday revealed that two payments totalling R671 000 were made to a company of which Smith is the sole director, Euro Blitz 48, in July 2015 and August 2016.
READ MORE: Top ANC MP Vincent Smith got cash, CCTV
Smith confirmed the payments, saying he had approached former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi for a personal loan to cover his daughter’s tertiary education fees at Aberystwyth University in Wales.
Smith told the newspaper he had operated under the impression the money was coming from Agrizzi’s pocket.
The report also detailed that Smith had allegedly accepted the installation of a new CCTV system and electric fencing worth R200 000 at his Roodepoort home, paid for by Bosasa.
Smith denied this, saying he had again asked Agrizzi for assistance, who in turn had dispatched Bosasa employees to Smith’s home to "upgrade" his existing CCTV system.
"It is about responding to the allegations in the Sunday papers," Smith told News24 on Tuesday when asked if he had excused himself from the hearings.
He confirmed that he had been meeting with ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu since Sunday and was working to finalise an official response to the allegations.
"I don’t want to discredit any committee I am in, I think I need to clarify that. So I did say to them, look you run solo for the morning session while I respond to this article. And by lunch time I would have responded," Smith said.
"I just needed to come back to my office to do the necessary in terms of dealing with that. But I am in Parliament, it’s business as usual for me – but I just thought let me clarify this first."
The ANC in Parliament is yet to express a view on the allegations against Smith.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen meanwhile has threatened to report Smith to the Parliamentary ethics committee.
Agrizzi is now also facing a crimen injuria charge for using the k-word when referring to two of his former colleagues.
READ MORE: Bosasa scandal 1: Big boss in k-word tirade