Mokonyane: Guesthouse celebration was a 'dinner' not a 'party' - 'I didn't mislead Zondo commission'

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Former minister Nomvula Mokonyane at the State Capture inquiry.
Former minister Nomvula Mokonyane at the State Capture inquiry.
Papi Morake, Gallo Images
  • Former minister Nomvula Mokonyane confirmed that her 40th birthday dinner was held at a Krugersdorp  guesthouse. 
  • Mokonyane previously denied having a birthday party at the guesthouse.  
  • The owner of the guesthouse previously told the commission that the party was organised by Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi.  

Former environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane confirmed to the state capture commission that she attended a 40th birthday "dinner" at a guesthouse in Krugersdorp, but disputed it was a "party".  

"I can confirm that as I said in my previous testimony here, that there has been several parties at that place and various meetings and upon reading Mr (Frederick Hendrik) Coetzee's statement, I can then confirm that I went for a private dinner and not the 'Break your leg' birthday party that was said by Mr (Angelo) Agrizzi.

"I can confirm there was a dinner. It was not a party as it was said by Mr Agrizzi. It was a surprise thing that happened at the venue," she said.

READ | Zondo commission: Nomvula Mokonyane wants to cross-examine Agrizzi, claims she was hacked last month

Mokonyane appeared before inquiry chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, on Thursday.  

She said her evidence that there was never a party at the guesthouse was not misleading. 

Coetzee was the owner of the Victorian Guesthouse in Krugersdorp.

He said before the function, Agrizzi asked for a meeting to inquire about hosting a function and also mentioned it would be for the then Safety and Security MEC in Gauteng, Mokonyane's position at the time. Coetzee said Agrizzi told him Bosasa would pay for the bash.

READ | Mokonyane's birthday bash: Bosasa splashed cash for 174 guests, guesthouse owner confirms to Zondo

The businessman also told Zondo that it was the first high-profile government function hosted by the guesthouse.

He said while they had initially planned to cater for a group of 80 guests, the number soon increased to 120. However, on the day of the function, the number rose to 174, said Coetzee.

During her testimony on Thursday, Mokonyane said the dinner was a "sitting arrangement".

She added: "My assertion was on break a leg, 50th party which I never had. My 50th party was about the journey of my life."

Mokonyane also said there was no speaker from Bosasa at the dinner.

READ HERE | Mokonyane, birthday bash, home repairs - when witnesses contradicted ex-minister at Zondo commission

She said the plan was to have a private dinner as a family. "I got in there, there were people already. When the lights were switched on, people started singing 'happy birthday'. It was a sit-down dinner."

She also said she couldn't identify Agrizzi at the venue.

"I mean he is white, I would have seen him. He would have been outstanding in the crowd."

When asked about the number of people who attended the party, Mokonyane said: "I think there is a bit of confusion and exaggeration on his submissions."

The former minister was also asked why she claimed that no birthday party was ever held at the guesthouse during her first appearance before the commission.  

READ | ‘I did not personally benefit from Bosasa but the ANC did’ – Mokonyane

"I said that, as I have said chair, it is over a decade ago and what attracted my attention were the assertions made my Mr Agrizzi about a 50th birthday with a theme 'Break your leg', held at the Victorian."

She said she never disputed not knowing the place.  

Last year, Agrizzi alleged that Mokonyane received cash payments from Bosasa.

He said the company also paid for maintenance at her home, including a garden service, repairs to electric fencing and the installation of a new camera system.

ALSO READ | Angelo Agrizzi's former PA confirms sending birthday hampers to Nomvula Mokonyane and assistant

The former Bosasa boss alleged the former minister received R50 000 a month in cash from Bosasa and that she had received gifts, including meat and expensive alcohol, for her family.

However, during her first appearance, Mokonyane repeatedly said allegations made against her by Agrizzi were extremely defamatory and full of contradictions.

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