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Gwede Mantashe: It wasn’t Bosasa, it was ‘a friend’

2019-02-11 00:34

ANC chairperson and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and his head of security, Mzonke Nyakaza, admitted on Saturday that Bosasa had installed the CCTV cameras and perimeter lights at Mantashe’s three homes.

However, Mantashe said the equipment was installed at the behest of Bosasa executive Papa Leshabane, whom he called a “family friend”.

Mantashe invited journalists to his homes this weekend to inspect the equipment.

This after a storm erupted over the installation of the security equipment at various ministers’ homes by Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations.

Bosasa employee Richard le Roux testified before the state capture commission that he had also installed various security equipment at the homes of then Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane, ANC MP Vincent Smith, deputy correctional services minister Thabang Makwetla, and former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni, among others.

But on Saturday, Mantashe said he was unaware at the time that Leshabane was involved in any way with Bosasa.

He claimed that he had done the installations for the then ANC secretary-general as a “family friend”.

“At the time, I was secretary-general of the ANC, not a minister, so it was not like there were any tenders that I could give in return for the installations. The installations were only done by Leshabane as a family friend,” he said at his Boksburg home.

A light and cameras which Bosasa installed at Gwede Mantashe’s home in Boksburg. Picture: Juniour Khumalo

Mantashe was also at pains to emphasise that while he was secretary-general, his security was paid for by the ANC, not Bosasa.

He added that he had tasked Nyakaza – whom the ANC assigned with seeing to his security – with buying cameras and installing them at his Boksburg home after two attempted break-ins in 2016.

Nyakaza confirmed this, saying that after the second attempted break-in, he “decided to put cameras in after consultation with [Mantashe] at the time. I spoke to umama, Mrs Mantashe, to organise some cash so that I could buy the cameras at East Rand Mall. She gave me the money,” he said.

“The following day, I wanted to get someone to install the cameras, and on that same day, Leshabane arrived here at the home. He saw the cameras when I was preparing to install them and he said: ‘These cameras are very weak; they won’t be able to give you the view that you want.’ He also said that he would be able to organise the proper ones.

“I said to him: ‘It’s fine if you will organise the proper ones.’ He said: ‘Give me a few days and I will get them.’

“He came a few days later and said: ‘This is the person who will be installing the cameras.’ That was Richard, who testified at the commission.”

Nyakaza also revealed that since the installation, he had communicated numerous times with Le Roux and Leshabane about the systems, especially when they malfunctioned.

Mantashe said he could “confirm that Leshabane had installed the cameras and the lights in my Boksburg home as well as at my two other properties in the Eastern Cape”.

However, he argued that the cameras he had bought for the Boksburg property using his own money had only cost him R10 000, adding that he had no idea how Le Roux had estimated, during his testimony before the state capture commission, that the system had cost R300 000 for his three properties.

Mantashe was also adamant that “there were no security features per se”. He said he did not consider CCTV cameras and perimeter lights as “security upgrades” because “security features are meant to stop crime from occurring” and “the cameras that Leshabane installed do not do any such thing”. Instead, he argued they were “just a measure to identify criminals once they have committed a crime” and “do not stop them from committing the crime”.

Mantashe also maintained that “there is no electric fence that has been installed, as testified by Le Roux before the commission”.

Last week, Mantashe was again questioned about the security upgrades at his properties while visiting the Total Oil Exploration Drill site outside Mossel Bay, in the Western Cape. He again denied having benefited from Bosasa, SABC News reported.

In his affidavit submitted to the commission, Le Roux said Bosasa installed nine CCTV cameras, a digital video recording system and perimeter lights.

Nyakaza took journalists around the modest property which Mantashe says was the first house he bought while working for the National Union of Mineworkers in 1995. Journalists identified six cameras and numerous perimeter lights, which Nyakaza confirmed Leshabane had installed. But Mantashe and Nyakaza did not reveal how they thought Leshabane had paid for the equipment and labour at the time of installation. Le Roux testified that they were paid for by Bosasa.

AGRIZZI’S ARREST TERRIFIES OTHERS

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission of inquiry into state capture, is said to have been unhappy about the timing of the arrest last week of former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi and two of his former colleagues who also testified before the commission.

Last Monday, the regional head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) specialised commercial crimes unit head, Marshall Mokgatle, gave the green light for the arrest of Agrizzi, along with former Bosasa chief financial officer (CFO) Andries van Tonder and former senior manager Frans Vorster.

They appeared in court alongside the former CFO of the correctional services department, Patrick Gillingham, facing charges of corruption, money laundering and fraud.

The case was postponed to February 27.

City Press has learnt that the arrests came as a surprise to Agrizzi and the Hawks investigation team.

“Agrizzi has been in discussion with the Hawks and the NPA, helping them to join the dots in the wider criminal investigation, for the past year,” said a source familiar with developments.

“The timing of his arrest angered Zondo and the staff of the commission. They see the arrests as undermining the work of the commission after at least 22 witnesses started developing cold feet. Those people are now rethinking their initial stance and are afraid of being arrested.”

City Press has also learnt that Agrizzi is due to depose to a supplementary affidavit, adding to his list the names of politicians, public servants and at least one more journalist who he claims were on the Bosasa payroll.

Commission spokesperson Reverend Mbuyiselo Stemela said the commission would not comment on “police and NPA matters”.


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September 15 2019