South Africa's senior ruling politicians publicly accused of taking regular bribes

Environment minister received bribes for years, former Bosasa executive tells inquiry

Former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi claimed that minister of environmental affairs Nomvula Mokonyane was given regular R50,000 (€3,200) bribes for years. Photograph: Getty Images

Former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi claimed that minister of environmental affairs Nomvula Mokonyane was given regular R50,000 (€3,200) bribes for years. Photograph: Getty Images

 

South Africa’s environment minister is among a group of senior ruling party politicians who have been publicly accused of taking regular bribes from a multibillion-rand services company by one of its former executives.

Testifying at a commission of inquiry on Monday, former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi claimed that minister of environmental affairs Nomvula Mokonyane was given regular R50,000 (€3,200) bribes for years.

According to Mr Agrizzi, Bosasa paid Ms Mokonyane – who is also a high-ranking African National Congress (ANC) women’s league official – in exchange for her influence to stop criminal investigations into the company.

Last week Mr Agrizzi said Bosasa was born out of Dyambu Holdings, a company that was owned by ANC women’s league leaders until it was closed down by the organisation in the 1990s.

Aside from cash payments, Ms Mokonyane also received groceries, expensive alcohol and slabs of meat every year, said Mr Agrizzi. In addition, Mr Agrizzi said Bosasa even paid for some of her relatives’ funerals and rented vehicles for Ms Mokonyane’s daughter for up to three months at a time.

Surprise witness

Mr Agrizzi is a surprise witness at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector currently under way in Johannesburg. He worked for Bosasa for nearly 19 years until 2016.

He told the inquiry that Ms Mokonyane also got Bosasa to pay for a host of ANC events, including political rallies held before elections, when she was a senior official in the Gauteng provincial government.

“There were rallies where we would have to cater for 40,000 or 50,000 people . . . We would get ridiculous requests saying we would need to cater for supporters – 10,000 at a time,” Mr Agrizzi said, before adding the request came through Bosasa boss Gavin Watson.

Ms Mokonyane has denied receiving any bribes from Bosasa, which was recently renamed African Global Operations.

Mr Agrizzi also claimed that ANC MP Vincent Smith and former ruling party MPs Vincent Magagula and Winnie Ngwenya received monthly bribes in return for favourable attitudes towards the company during their work on parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services.

Security

Bosasa was awarded numerous contracts by the department of correctional services over the years to provide catering training and security at different prisons.

Mr Agrizzi, who claims he prepared and tracked the bribes for Bosasa, also revealed they employed the services of former ANC bodyguard Sesinyi Seopela, to facilitate their payment to officials in return for vital information on government contracts.

Last week Mr Agrizzi maintained that at the height of his involvement of the corruption at Bosasa, about 80 ANC politicians and public sector officials were receiving bribes that cost the firm up to six million rand (about €383,000) a month.

Mr Agrizzi will continue giving evidence on Tuesday at the inquiry.