Zondo commission: 'Many calls' to probe Bosasa 'fell on deaf ears', claims DA's James Selfe

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James Selfe.
James Selfe.
Liza van Deventer, Netwerk24
  • Former minister of correctional services told a parliamentary committee not to look into Bosasa, DA MP James Selfe told the Zondo commission.
  • Selfe raised the alarm about Bosasa several times, but to no avail.
  • He claimed the government didn't want to investigate it.

A former minister of correctional services told the chairperson of a parliamentary committee it would be inappropriate for his committee to discuss the instability at the department brought on by the automatic renewal of a Bosasa contract, veteran DA MP James Selfe claimed to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture on Tuesday.

"It was the most extraordinary event. In all my years in Parliament, I never came across a minister telling a committee what it could and couldn't do," said Selfe, who became an MP in 1994 when he was elected to the then Senate.

The incident he was referring to dates back to 2008 when Bosasa's catering contract for the Department of Correctional Services was due to come to an end.

Then minister of correctional services Ngconde Balfour wanted it renewed, while then director-general of correctional services Vernie Petersen stated that he was uncomfortable with the extension of Bosasa's contract for another year. This caused "unpleasantness" - as Selfe called it - between Petersen and Balfour.

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The portfolio committee on correctional services, at the time chaired by former ANC MP Dennis Bloem, wanted to discuss the matter. Selfe said Balfour wrote a letter to Bloem, saying it would be inappropriate for the committee to discuss the "instability" at the department.

Selfe said he had a good working relationship with Bloem, who also told him that he was chastised by then ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe and his deputy Andries Nel.

Many calls

Selfe told the commission that his "many calls over many years" that Parliament should investigate Bosasa "fell on death ears".

"There was very little acceptance from the majority party," he said.

Even after a preliminary report by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) with what Selfe deemed compelling evidence, and news reportage on the alleged malfeasance between the department and Bosasa, the ANC MPs failed to work up an appetite to investigate the matter.

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Bloem was replaced by Vincent Smith as the committee's chairperson. Selfe said he didn't have a similar working relationship with Smith.

Evidence leader advocate Alec Freund said that in Smith's affidavit to the commission, he said the renewal of Bosasa's contract never came up while he was chair of the committee. Selfe disputes this.

Smith is currently standing trial on fraud and corruption charges, relating to bribes he allegedly accepted from Bosasa. He maintains his innocence.  

Selfe is expected to continue his testimony on Friday.

Selfe's testimony gels with that of Bloem, who in February 2019 told the commission he often raised problems with Bosasa to the ANC, who did nothing about it. Bloem left the ANC to join Cope and is currently that party's spokesperson.

Petersen became ill and passed away in February 2011.

Bloem asked the commission to investigate his "sudden and unexplained" death.

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