Barbara Curson
5 minute read
7 Jul 2020
8:22 am

Insight: The electrician, Nomvula Mokonyane and the Bosasa home repairs

Barbara Curson

The commission’s team, together with an apprentice electrician who had been involved in the work that was carried out, paid a visit to Mokonyane’s residence.

Former water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi’s 2019 testimony to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, in which he fingered a number of allegedly corrupt parties, including politicians, was again the central focus at Monday’s (July 6) hearings.

Included was Agrizzi’s affidavit dated January 15, 2019, dealing with the alleged repairs carried out at the house of former minister Nomvula Mokonyane by Bosasa.

Mokonyane was minister of environmental affairs from November 22, 2018 to May 25, 2019. Prior to that she was minister of communications (2018), minister of water and sanitation (2014-2018), and Gauteng premier (2009-2014).

Evidence leader Viwe Notshe SC also referred Judge Raymond Zondo to Agrizzi’s supplementary statement, Agrizzi’s response to Mokonyane’s affidavit, and the statement of Richard le Roux (a former employee of Bosasa), all of which testified to the repairs carried out at Mokonyane’s house.

Background to Monday’s testimony

Zondo gave a brief background to what the day’s testimony would cover for the benefit of Notshe, who is leading evidence at the commission for the first time:

  • Agrizzi gave evidence in 2019 implicating a number of people, including certain politicians. Agrizzi testified that while he was at Bosasa there were a number of people who were given monthly payments by Bosasa, and Mokonyane was one of them.
  • In 2019 Agrizzi and Richard le Roux also gave evidence that there were a number of projects within Bosasa, in terms of which Bosasa installed CCTV cameras and other security equipment at the homes of certain people, including that of Mokonyane.
  • As Zondo recalled, Mokonyane had deposed an affidavit and denied that Bosasa had paid for any repairs at her home. She also denied that Agrizzi had ever been to her house, that goods were delivered to her house, or that she had ever received money from Bosasa.

Recapping Agrizzi’s testimony

For the sake of completeness, below is a summary of Agrizzi’s testimony given in 2019 in regard to Mokonyane:

  • According to Agrizzi’s affidavit, the repairs at Mokonyane’s home included: “maintenance, placement of CCTV cameras, repair of pool, electric fencing, lighting, minor building repairs etc. I would estimate the initial cost at about R300 000 with a continual cost monthly. Gardening maintenance would be done by the Bosasa internal team, and thus it is difficult to ascertain the costs”.
  • Mokonyane also got Bosasa to pay for former president Jacob Zuma’s birthday cake, expensive goodies for Christmas including cold drinks, lambs ready for the spit braai, beef braai packs, expensive alcohol and cold drinks.
  • An Audi A3 cabriolet was “arranged” for Mokonyane’s daughter by Agrizzi on Bosasa’s behalf.
  • Bosasa provided funding for funerals of relatives, including that of Mokonyane’s late son.
  • Bosasa’s CEO at the time, the late Gavin Watson, would deliver R50 000 to Mokonyane on a monthly basis.
  • The costs of numerous functions exceeded R2.4 million.
  • Car hire could amount to R80 000 per trip.

Project Blouberg

The commission has been carrying out an investigation into Mokonyane’s denials.

The commission’s team, together with an apprentice electrician who had been involved in the work that was carried out, paid a visit to Mokonyane’s residence to view some of the security instalments, to obtain identifying features of the house, and to take photographs. Mokonyane’s lawyers were present. Zondo remarked that there was much cooperation from Mokonyane and her lawyers in regard to the investigation at her home.

The repairs to Mokonyane’s house were termed ‘Project Blouberg’ by Bosasa.

Work carried out

Renier van Biljon, a qualified electrician whose company San Electrical was sub-contracted by Bosasa to carry out maintenance work at Mokonyane’s home, has since emigrated to New Zealand.

The affidavit deposed by Van Biljon was read out to the commission.

Van Biljon received instructions from Richard le Roux of Bosasa, who would inform him of the address where services had to be carried out and meet him at the site, where Van Biljon would evaluate the work to be done (such as fitting CCTVs).

Van Biljon had to ensure that the address where the repairs were carried out was not on his invoice to Bosasa.

Briefly, Van Biljon in his affidavit confirmed the address of the house, which corresponds with Mokonyane’s address, and that various electrical work was carried out over approximately 10 visits to Mokonyane’s home (repairs to the pool distribution board, various lights, and water features).

Charl le Roux, who was employed by San Electrical as an apprentice electrician from 2013 to 2019, would be given work by Van Biljon. Van Biljon dealt with all the administration such as the invoicing and receipting of money. He was not involved in the day-to-day running of the business. Supplies were purchased from Carlton Lighting, situated in Krugersdorp.

Charl le Roux, whose cousin is married to Van Biljon, went to Mokonyane’s home a number of times to carry out repairs (backup power system, outside light, water feature, and ceiling downlights).

Guardhouse, guard, multi-million-rand car

He was asked to recall some of the features of the house he had seen, which included a guardhouse on the left of the property, a guard, an Aston Martin (the 2020 price tag of which ranges from R3 million to R6.1 million) under a special cover, a pool, and a generator that was situated behind the house.

Evidence leader Notshe spent some time confirming the type of repair work carried out by Van Biljon per his affidavit, as well as the address, and did the same with Charl le Roux. Expensive items – such as the Aston Martin, the generator, and the pool with all its special features – were extensively covered.

It is apparent that the commission can ably prove that the repairs were carried out at Mokonyane’s home. Mokonyane will have to explain how she accumulated such expensive property.

Naturally, this will have to accord with all the income tax returns she and her husband have submitted over the years.

Still, one would expect that the South African Revenue Service is working on its lifestyle questionnaire for politicians.

It will be interesting to see how Mokonyane wriggles out of this fix.

This article first appeared on Moneyweb and has been republished with permission.

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