State Capture Inquiry: We didn't want to judge Bosasa subsidiary on media reports, commission hears

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  • Former justice department chief operating officer Dr Khotso De Wee says he didn't want to judge Bosasa-subsidiary based on negative media reports. 
  • De Wee says the department awarded the tender because they were worried about crime at courts.
  • He has denied allegations that he received bribes from Bosasa. 

"If we knew what we know now, we might have come to a different decision."

This was the answer former justice department COO Dr Khotso De Wee gave when deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo questioned why the government continued giving contracts to Bosasa despite corruption allegations. 

"There was absolutely no doubt that Bosasa was involved in grand corruption. It had no qualms about using a lot of money to bribe government officials. When all these allegations were in the media, shouldn’t this have been of concern to government officials?" Zondo asked. 

De Wee, who is also the former state capture commission secretary, said he didn’t want to prejudice the company on media reports in case they were inaccurate.  

De Wee said:

We did not have a clear legal basis to act on that matter. Sometimes the media gets it wrong. What we know now, we didn’t know then.

De Wee was implicated by former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi. At the time of the alleged payments, De Wee was the chief operating officer of the Department of Justice.

In his testimony, Agrizzi said De Wee had received cash payments from Bosasa. Agrizzi said De Wee received payments following the awarding of a tender to Sondolo IT.

Agrizzi said he had no personal knowledge of the money ever getting to De Wee, as it was handed over to Sesinyi Seopela. Seopela then allegedly paid De Wee.

Zondo said the commission tried to get an affidavit from Seopela but failed. "The commission did try to get an affidavit from various Bosasa officials, including Mr Seopela, and they did not cooperate. They did not furnish any affidavits."

READ | State Capture Inquiry: Former commission secretary denies Bosasa corruption allegations

The tender, worth R600 million, was awarded to the Bosasa subsidiary to install CCTV and access control systems at courts.

De Wee was the commission's secretary until 2019 when he was placed on leave after Agrizzi implicated him. He has denied the allegations against him.  

When the tender was awarded, De Wee was the chairperson of the tender adjudication committee.  

The tender was to install the cameras at 127 courts, but in the end, they were only put in at 95 sites.  

De Wee said the department received 18 bids for the tender. The minimum scoring threshold was set at 65%. Four bidders scored above 50%. Eleven companies scored under 50%, and Sondolo IT scored 79% in the tender adjudication process, beating the competition by a huge margin.

As a result, the adjudication team asked for advice from the Department of Justice law enforcement department and National Treasury on whether the bid was competitive enough, De Wee said.  

ALSO READ | Suspended Pretoria magistrate tells Zondo Commission about 'botched' security installation at his home

"We were worried about the gap," he said. 

Treasury recommended they re-advertise the tender and put up new benchmarks. The DOJ said they should either withdraw the tender and start the process afresh or just go ahead with it as is. They went with the department’s recommendation and awarded it to Sondolo IT. 

"Clearly these opinions were opposing. We chose one because we were worried about the [security] situation at the courts. The situation in the courts was very bad."

De Wee said there were a lot of complaints from lawyers, magistrates and lawyers about violent crimes in the courts. 

The commission adjourned on Friday afternoon.

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