Bosasa whistleblower describes bribery to win contracts

Revelations from a highly-placed whistleblower about the bribery of senior state officials and other shady dealings in order to win major state contracts have gripped South Africa.

Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi's testimony to the country's State Capture Inquiry has detailed how his ex-employer, a major private security firm, allegedly paid bribes on a monthly basis to senior state officials, including a current minister.

And Agrizzi also detailed how, when negative publicity made it difficult for Bosasa to win a contract directly, it used a shadowy network of front companies to do so.

On Monday, Agrizzi’s testimony implicated ministers, former and current ANC members of parliament, and officials working in various departments.

Agrizzi alleged that Bosasa had such a close relationship with environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane that chief executive Gavin Watson would personally deliver a monthly bribe of R50,000 to her, as well as the company paying for numerous “extras”.

The alleged payments took place while Mokonyane was still the Gauteng MEC (Member of the Executive Council for Safety) between 1999 and 2004.

They were made in order to help protect the company from prosecution for winning contracts illegally, he said.

Agrizzi said the facilities company had such a close relationship with the Correctional Services Department that the firm had access to tender documents for major prison projects before they were advertised, helping it win vital contracts.

He said that the company, now called the African Global Group, used to spend half a million rand monthly bribing officials at the Department of Justice And Correctional Services.

The testimony also detailed how Bosasa used front companies such as Phezulu Fencing to obtain a fencing and security tender at the country’s correctional facilities.

“We had never put up a fence,” added Agrizzi, explaining Bosasa’s lack of competence in the field.

“We had to avert any negativity at that stage towards Bosasa and the only way you would avert this – because this is a massive contract, one of the biggest fencing contracts ever done because they didn’t want attention – we said Phezulu is there; award the contract to Phezulu.

“It was a plan to capture what was left of the fencing business at correctional services.”

In his evidence about Mokonyane, Agrizzi claimed she would supply a “shopping list” detailing numerous cuts of meat and cases of premium alcohol which Bosasa would then pay for.

“We would get ridiculous requests in the middle of the night saying we had to sort out birthday party cakes, cater for supporters, 10,000 at a time,” Agrizzi said.

A spokesman for Mokonyane has branded the accusations “preposterous” and she has complained that she was not notified about the testimony beforehand.

In six days of testimony Agrizzi’s allegations have also been muddied by fake news, including false testimonies spread via fake Twitter feeds in his name and Whatsapp messages.

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