Former Boso COO Angelo Agrizzi testified at the state arrest investigation commission on January 21, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Agrizzi, which involved government officials, revealed that Bosasa allegedly made a number of millions of payments to various government departments in return for a profitable security contract. (Photo by Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla)
Three former Correctional Services Commissioners and a Chief Financial Officer are among a group of diligent Bosasa lieutenants who are alleged to have taken cash and are willing to bend the rules for facility management companies. Linda Mti, Zach Modise, Khulekani Sithole and Patrick Gillingham, Zondo Commission heard, intermittently took over more than 10 years.
It was the fifth day in the witness box for Angelo Agrizzi, the former head of Bosasa operations who testified before the State Capture investigation.
The proof is no less disturbing than on the first day when he painted a picture of how facility management companies manipulated the system by paying senior politicians and civil servants at a cost of up to R6 million per month.
On Tuesday he revealed how not only one, but three, former Correctional Services Commissioners were allegedly active in helping Bosasa's corruption practices through a widespread bribery system that made the company reach nearly R3 billion in government business – a large portion of transactions at Correctional Services.
That includes catering contracts, one for access control, another for CCTV systems and TV sets for inmates as well as fences between 47 and 60 strange facilities throughout the country.
Agrizzi testified how Linda Mti, Zach Modise, Khulekani Sithole, and former Head of Correctional Services Office Patrick Gillingham allegedly benefited too much from cash or cars, travel and accommodation, sponsors for their children's studies or in one case, dances matrices, concession arrangements for relatives living in retirement villages as well as security and maintenance and repairs in their homes.
Mti, the Correctional Institution boss until around 2006, was the main focus because his relationship with Bosasa continued well after he resigned – as if he had received certain benefits for several contracts given during his tenure.
He allegedly received a mansion on a gated plantation, Savannah Hills, in Midrand. This house, which Agrizzi testifies to today can be worth more than R10-million, was built for Mti by Bosasa through one of its subcontractors "who has got a lot of work" from the company.
The agreement was designed to avoid supervision so that the property was built to "like" Mti and, after completion, someone had asked the Penitentiary to issue a tender for the rented house to the commissioner at that time.
Bosasa subcontractors easily win tenders, and Correctional Services pay monthly rent.
The plan was for the rental to accumulate over the years, a nice little gift when Mti would leave the post, Agrizzi testified.
But the bad press and negative publicity about Bosasa's close relationship with officials in Correctional Services, including Mti, were complicated matters and, soon, he quit his job.
Agrizzi testified that given the heat, Bukit Savanah's property was not transferred to Mti. However, to compensate for that, Bosasa only raised its monthly allowance with an additional R65,000 to cover the rent of the house and, later, to downgrade to the adjacent Midrand plantation.
He said he believed that payments for Mti began in 2006 and told the Commission that he was still packing a cash bag intended for Mti recently 2016.
He will often accompany Bosasa's CEO, Gavin Watson to Mti's house to make deliveries, Agrizzi told the Commission.
Asked how many times he traveled like that, Agrizzi said "it must be 30 to 40 times" for years.
He further testified on suspicion of payment to Modise and Sithole and a KwaZulu-Natal regional commissioner who had been very angry about the payment of R57,500 (not as much as he expected) so that he rushed in rage – only to return a moment later to collect his savings .
Bosasa allegedly spent a lot of money on Gillingham: a house on the Midstream Estate, a new Mercedes Benz and a VW Polo for his daughter.
Payments for this will be made through electronic transfers by Bosasa staff who will be replaced in "cash" by one of the company's divisions.
When Gillingham was suspended in September 2008, Bosasa took his legal bill, Agrizzi testified.
And when the Special Investigation Unit found incriminating documents during a raid on Gillingham's home, Bosasa allegedly drafted a fake loan agreement.
To make all this appear on the board, former Commissioner Mti allegedly signed an outdated statement of interest in a Protea hotel in Midrand.
Agrizzi, who met with the two men to solve their problems, testified that Mti wrote a little about the document along the line "please make sure this doesn't bother you or present a conflict of interest".
At that moment, both Mti and Gillingham were thought to be deep in Bosasa's pocket.
The company has been investigated for more than a decade but has so far escaped demands.
State Capture Investigation has begun to present some findings from the SIU report that show clear deviations from the National Treasury supply chain management process.
The report also details how Gillingham, outside its normal duties, played an integral role in several agreements, sometimes involved irregularly in the development of tender specifications. Agrizzi testified of a wide plot by Bosasa and its partners at that time to cook tenders that were profitable for the supply of high security fences.
He said Gillingham, in a casual chat one day, asked him about an anti-vandal system that could be used as a central TV management system in state prisons.
"Each cell will have a TV but the prison chief can determine content, volume and one allowing a single national communication system for prisons throughout the country. "
In the long term, Gillingham wants something that can combine network infrastructure that will allow for additional future value such as cell phone detection or thermal imaging, Agrizzi said.
At that time, he said, they often discussed with Mti or Gillingham who told them that the Penitentiary needed a plan to use its budget surplus.
Agrizzi collected information together with the help of outside companies and this document allegedly came to inform the tender specifications for an agreement that one of Bosasa's subsidiaries won only five months after leaving for tender.
In another agreement, Bosasa has an initial estimate of 47 days for any competitor for a high security fence system in all prisons. It is almost impossible for anyone to make a decent offer in that short period of time.
Agrizzi testified that the plan for the name Bosasa did not appear anywhere; the field will enter with the name of another company that Bosasa bought through two trusts. Transfer of shares is only signed after the agreement is in the bag.
However, Bosasa had to make the tender process look legitimate so they arranged for several other companies to bid with the effort that they would each get a piece of cake as a subcontractor. He named some of them as the Siyaya and Pagar Fences and the SA Gate.
Agrizzi then testified how one night, while working late, he traveled across the Bosasa site in Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg, and found representatives from each of the companies sitting in the meeting room, thrashing bids – together.
Agrizzi asks if they have turned off the Bosasa camera because here they are sitting, as if individual bidders, in one room, exchanged notes.
Bosasa issues large bribes, but this does not protect them from ongoing investigations and the damaging effects of media investigative reports.
Every time they get an attack, Agrizzi says they will recruit systems and offices to burden documents related to Bosasa Correctional Services contracts or proof of payment or assistance to those on the payroll.
In one example he personally accompanied a colleague to a travel agent to destroy the computer and all records relating to VIP bookings via Bosasa.
This was followed in the 2009 article by journalist Adriaan Basson.
He said the company, Blake Travel, understood why the designated computer had to be removed.
After picking them up, Agrizzi and his senior colleague went to a dormitory that Bosasa was busy developing, threw it into a big hole and then asked for gasoline to burn.
Bosasa then creates a fraudulent paper trail to make sure their VIP recipients are safe.
In another example, he said, the CEO, Gavin Watson, received information about the SIU investigation process to the company. Watson, he said, allegedly instructed an IT man in the company to trigger a server crash and to destroy incriminating material.
"At this point, the SIU team plans to look for Bosasa's office, "he said.
Agrizzi and other seniors examined the office for documents relating to their fence contracts and when doing so, he claimed, he found a document detailing the arrangements between Mti and Watson.
He previously testified, several times, that Watson had never signed anything – but insisted that he found a copy of this alleged document.
Watson, he said, felt very relieved when he handed over a copy and put it down it was in a Ziploc bag, and poured water on it as if he was working with padock-mâché.
He testified that even though they destroyed a lot of information, he had asked people to put it on two or three hard drives which he had since given to the State Arrest Commission.
Agrizzi's testimony continued on Wednesday. DM
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