Former president Jacob Zuma’s foundation was paid R300 000 a month by Bosasa for years, allegedly in exchange for his influence to ensure that political leaders would open doors to new government contracts.
As the relationship with Zuma grew, Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson turned to Zuma to kill an ongoing corruption probe by National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials and the Hawks.
News24 has reliably learned that former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi will reveal this and more during his hair-raising testimony before the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture this coming week. Agrizzi will implicate Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and top prosecutors Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi as being entangled in Bosasa’s web of corruption.
So comfortable was Watson with Zuma that before a meeting with the former president in May 2015, he outlined how he planned to lobby Zuma to appoint a National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) that would shut down ongoing investigations.
Agrizzi secretly recorded the meeting and News24 obtained the audio clip in September last year.
But Bosasa and Watson did not only rely on Zuma’s ability to stymie a prosecution.
Around 2011 they had already devised a plan to bribe senior prosecutors Jiba and Mrwebi through former prisons boss Linda Mti and his one-time secretary, Jackie Lepinka who as it happened, was at the time Jiba’s personal assistant.
Agrizzi took to the stand on Wednesday and has revealed bombshell after bombshell as he related years of corruption at the Krugersdorp facilities management company.
So far his testimony has revealed the extensive schemes the company operated to generate cash to pay bribes on a monthly basis, how Airports Company of South Africa and SA Post Office officials were bribed in exchange for tenders as far back as 2001.
News24 revealed on Friday that this allegedly extended to Dr Khotso de Wee, the secretary of the Zondo commission and former chief operations officer at the department of justice.
Following the report De Wee offered to step aside and was then placed on special leave pending the outcome of the commission’s investigations into the allegation against him.
Agrizzi will this coming week however implicate top political leaders and government officials Bosasa allegedly bribed to secure contracts and to stay out of jail, including Jiba and Zuma.
Mokonyane also allegedly received gifts including lavish Christmas parties sponsored by Bosasa, upgrades and security systems installed at her home, and she facilitated Bosasa’s sponsorship of birthday parties for Zuma and other ANC functions.
Not so correctional services
His testimony is also yet to deal with bribes paid to former correctional services boss Linda Mti, and the department’s chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham.
The improper relationship between Gillingham, Mti and Bosasa first made headlines in 2008 and 2009, when a Special Investigating Unit investigation revealed how bribes including cash, cars and houses among others were used to ensure Bosasa secured lucrative contracts from correctional services.
It is these allegations that resulted in an investigation by the then newly established Hawks in conjunction with NPA prosecutors.
To date, none of the parties involved have been prosecuted – allegedly as a result of bribes paid to officials in charge of the probe.
News24 revealed on Saturday that the investigation was complete, after almost exactly 10 years.
In a recording News24 has previously published, it was revealed that Watson planned to push the president’s hand to appoint a NDPP that would be sympathetic to Bosasa and to get the investigation shut down, and also protect Jiba and Mrwebi.
“We need to get this thing shut down, Mr President,” Watson can be heard saying in the recording of what he planned to say to Zuma during a meeting scheduled for May 2015 at Nkandla.
Now former NDPP Shaun Abrahams was appointed a month later in June 2015.
Snake, Snail and Jay
During his testimony Agrizzi revealed that he kept coded records of bribes in little black notebooks. The records were coded to prevent other staff members from establishing the identities of officials involved.
The codename for Jiba was ‘Snake’, while Mrwebi was ‘Snail’ and Lepinka, ‘Jay’.
Allegedly Mti would meet with Jiba, Mrwebi and Lepinka, or all three, and the Bosasa investigation would be discussed. On occasion, cash would be handed over.
The cash was given to Mti either by Agrizzi or Watson with the understanding that R100 000 was for Jiba, R20 000 for Lepinka and R10 000 for Mrwebi.
Mrwebi was the head of the commercial crimes unit of the NPA and reported to Jiba, who was the head of the National Prosecuting Service and later acted as the NDPP.
They are both on suspension currently and facing an inquiry into their fitness to hold office.
Agrizzi and Watson were told by Mti that the documents and information they were privy to came from Jiba and Mrwebi as well, however it is understood that Agrizzi never personally witnessed Jiba or Mrwebi handing over documents or meeting with Mti.
A host of confidential NPA documents, including affidavits by potential witnesses, were given to Bosasa by Mti, who in turn allegedly obtained the documents from Jiba, Mrwebi and/or Lepinka.
Jiba, Mrwebi and Lepinka all categorically denied that they had ever received cash payments from Bosasa when News24 put it to them in September 2018.
During an interview with Jiba at the NPA offices, Jiba added that she did not know Mti and that in fact, it was thanks to her that the Bosasa matter had been pursued.
If not for her, “the Bosasa matter would still be gathering dust” she told News24.
This is however at odds with the history of the case.
In 2009, the SIU finalised its report detailing how Bosasa had bribed Mti and Gillingham with cash, cars and gifts in exchange for multi-million rand catering and fencing tenders at prisons around the country.
The report was referred to the NPA in February 2010 by then correctional services minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, where since then, it has gathered dust. Amid allegations of ‘political interference’ and incompetence, little to no progress was made to date.