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Security threat brings Agrizzi’s testimony to an unexpected halt

2019-01-17 17:51

There was a dramatic ending to proceedings at the state capture commission on Thursday as former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi’s explosive testimony was cut short due a security threat at the commission’s Parktown venue.

Agrizzi had earlier told commission chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, that he was concerned about his safety because he had seen a former policeman, who was currently employed at Bosasa, in the vicinity of the commission’s Parktown venue.

“I did not want to say anything until everything had been verified, but when I went to lunch break yesterday, Solomon Segale [a former policeman who Agrizzi had employed at Bosasa four years ago] was standing outside with a group of policemen. They were in uniforms but he was in plain clothes.

“After investigations, I have had it confirmed that he slipped in using his old police ID card,” said Agrizzi.

A visibly shocked Zondo requested that Advocate Paul Pretorius, head of the commission’s legal team, should investigate the matter and in the meantime also beef up Agrizzi’s security.

Having addressed this matter, Agrizzi continued with his testimony until the commission adjourned for lunch.

Proceedings did not resume as planned after the lunch break as the witness was nowhere to be seen and Zondo only emerged from his chambers to address those in the venue following almost an hour’s delay.

He merely said due to a security risk that occurred in the building the commission would not be resuming as planned. He adjourned the proceedings until tomorrow.

There was no update on Agrizzi whereabouts or whether he was okay. There was also no information on what sort of security concern had forced the proceedings to be postponed.

Security at the commission was beefed up last year following an incident where a camera belonging to the SABC was stolen by a woman who was caught on CCTV footage leaving the premises. There was a tightening of security around the venue following protests by EFF supporters.

Earlier, Agrizzi’s testimony shed light on how money was transferred from one vault to another within Bosasa and later disseminated as kickbacks for tenders received by the company.

A video clip, about six minutes long, was played to the commission and it showed the company’s chief financial officer, Andries van Tonder, removing a box full of money from one of the vaults and taking it to the company’s chief executive Gavin Watson.

As he walked the commission through the events on the video clip Angelo Agrizzi informed Zondo that the stacks of money seen in the vault were used to for unlawful activities.

“Staff [members] were paid hush money to keep quiet about illegal activities and cash was also kept in a vault at the company to bribe officials on a monthly basis,” said Agrizzi.

He said the company preferred to pay individuals monthly payments instead of a once-off payment because this insured that individuals were entrapped and would do their bidding.

On Wednesday, Agrizzi told the commission that Bosasa, now known as African Global Investments, spent up to R6 million every month on bribing senior government officials and executives in various companies in exchange for contracts and tenders.

He said bribes were paid “internally and externally”, adding that “we were bribing the people so that they keep quiet about the corruption”.

Agrizzi said that in the 19 years he was at the company the money was “always used illegally” and as far as he was aware all the government tenders that the company had received were either gotten through bribes or were extended as a result of having to bribe someone or another.

“We used to pay a premium to get the cash because the cash was laundered,” he said when asked whether the money was used to pay staff legitimately.

His testimony also revealed that former chief financial officer of correctional services, Patrick Gillingham was among the numerous government officials bribed by Bosasa.

When asked by Zondo how he was sure of this his response was, “because I was involved in bribing him”.

Agrizzi is set to continue with his testimony tomorrow.

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February 17 2019