Gavin Watson had R70 but no cellphone with him when he died

Gavin Watson
Gavin Watson

A wallet containing R70 in cash was all that Bosasa boss Gavin Watson had with him when he died in a horrific crash at OR Tambo International Airport in the early hours of Monday morning.

Police officials who attended the scene also found his ID card and driver's licence, but there were no travel bags, passports or cellphones in the company-owned Toyota Corolla. 

Watson, who was scheduled to testify before a tax inquiry into Bosasa's affairs on Tuesday, was declared dead on the scene.

The Toyota Corolla was ripped apart, the engine burst asunder and the front right axle was torn clean off the car from the force of the impact.

In the pre-dawn gloom, Watson's vehicle had collided with a concrete bridge pillar adjacent to the road leading off the R21 motorway to the drop-off and parking zone of the airport. It is possible that his valuables were removed from the car in the immediate aftermath of the crash, but as this particular stretch of road is located in a blind spot of the airport's surveillance system, it will be impossible to know for sure.

READ | 'Very plausible' that Gavin Watson was trying to flee country when he died - Angelo Agrizzi 

Photographs of the vehicle, which is registered to Bosasa, show that Watson was probably not wearing his seatbelt. It was tucked in behind his body, the clasp clicked into the buckle to stop the inevitable and annoying beep of the on-board computer. 

His everyday car, a high-performance BMW X5, was parked at Bosasa's offices in Krugersdorp. It apparently had a mechanical fault. Watson had taken the Corolla for the weekend, apparently after a prayer meeting with other staff on Sunday.

Asked whether Watson had ever driven a Toyota Corolla in the past, Bosasa's former fleet manager Frans Vorster said "never... I was personally responsible for his cars. If his (luxury) vehicles were in for a service, I had to rent a similar model for him to drive with," said Vorster. 

READ | Gavin Watson parked his BMW at Bosasa, called prayer meeting day before death ride

The central missing pieces of the puzzle are:

  • Why was Watson going to the airport?
  • Why did he drive a company Toyota Corolla?
  • Why are there no visible brake marks on the tarmac?

Conspiracies abound, ranging from an "assisted suicide" to being followed and/or chased and losing control of the vehicle, to Watson suffering a heart attack shortly before the accident. 

A post mortem is scheduled to be conducted on Tuesday.

News24 visited the scene on Monday afternoon, after the wreckage had been cleared, to gain more insight.

There were no visible skid marks to show that Watson had swerved or attempted to brake before colliding with the pillar. There were also no visible cameras that could have captured the moment of impact. 

READ | Adriaan Basson: Dead men tell no tales, and Gavin Watson knew a lot

A police official stationed at the airport, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed no footage had yet been found. As per standard operating procedure, a case of culpable homicide was opened. 

Police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said he could not reveal much information.

"We just saw a vehicle that was half mangled, the entire front of the vehicle was completely destroyed, with bits and pieces of the vehicle lying all over," he said. "From our preliminary investigation it would appear that he lost control of the vehicle, and of course there is a culpable homicide investigation under way at the moment [which] is the unlawful negligent causing of a death of a person," Naidoo said. 

He added that the results of the post mortem could take some time to be finalised. 

Tax inquiry

Watson was scheduled to appear before an inquiry into his and Bosasa's tax affairs. 

News24 understands that the inquiry, led by advocate Piet Marais SC, was supposed to hear from Watson as part of a SARS probe into his tax compliance. The inquiry flowed from testimony at the state capture commission of inquiry.

READ | Mandy Wiener: Gavin Watson's death – Brett Kebble 2.0?

More than 20 witnesses are expected to appear before the inquiry, which is a process closed to the public as it relates to tax matters, which SARS is under legislative obligation to keep confidential, News24 earlier reported.

It is unclear how Watson's death will affect the inquiry or ongoing criminal investigations into allegations that he and other Bosasa employees were engaged in corruption for paying bribes to politicians and government officials to secure state tenders.

Bosasa, which was renamed African Global Operations in 2017, accumulated R12bn in state contracts since 2004.

The last of these contracts, such as the management of the Lindela Repatriation Centre, expires in October.

GET THE NEWS at your fingertips and download the News24 app for Android or iPhone.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Are you going to keep wearing a mask following the announcement that it is no longer required under law?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No ways, I'm done
39% - 4678 votes
Yes, I still want to be cautious
26% - 3040 votes
Only certain circumstances
35% - 4183 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.