The arrest on Thursday of former top ANC MP Vincent Smith has given the evidence against high profile politicians in connection with Bosasa corruption a massive injection of credibility.
Smith handed himself over to the Hawks and appeared briefly before the Specialised Commercial Court sitting at Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court. He maintained his innocence and was granted R30 000 bail.
His co-accused, former Bosasa boss Angelo Agrizzi, was also charged, but did not appear due to illness.
News24 reported that the indictment was devastating for Smith.
It detailed his change of heart over Bosasa during Parliamentary portfolio committee sittings over a number of years, apparently coinciding with his first meeting with Bosasa and then receiving money from the company.
Agrizzi was being charged for his role in making the payments to Smith.
The case, which represented the NPA Investigative Directorate’s (ID) first political collar, was opened by Paul O’Sullivan’s Forensics for Justice, a non-profit organisation that investigated and exposed corruption.
O’Sullivan on Thursday detailed how he intervened when it appeared the case had stalled in 2019, asking the National Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Shamila Batohi, to move the case to the ID, which she then did, O’Sullivan said.
He added that Bosasa and Smith had come onto his radar in an investigation into the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) in connection with SA Fence and Gate.
News24 had seen evidence confirming that O’Sullivan kept close tabs on the case and pushed for its completion.
News24 first revealed the payments to Smith and the installation of a security system at his home on 2 September 2018, after confronting Smith about the payments at his home in Roodepoort.
A week after the exposé on Smith, News24 published details of security and CCTV systems installed at several politician’s homes, including Gwede Mantashe, Nomvula Mokonyane, Thabang Makwetla and former Prasa procurement manager Mbulelo Gincana and former SAA chairperson, Dudu Myeni.
The evidence of the installations was given by Richard le Roux, a former Bosasa employee tasked by Gavin Watson and by Agrizzi to undertake the installations.
Agrizzi delivered further testimony into Bosasa corruption, but was suffering the same fate as those he sought to expose.
The arrest of Smith gave Le Roux and Agrizzi’s evidence an injection of credibility.
News24 was able to verify that installations were undertaken at the homes of Mantashe, Mokonyane, Makwetla, Myeni and Gingcana through text messages sent to Le Roux, and by visiting some of the sites in question.
Mokonyane appeared before the Zondo Commission on several occasions to answer questions about her relationship with Bosasa, and the security upgrades.
In February 2019, Mantashe allowed the media to tour his three homes in Boksburg and Cala, in the Eastern Cape, to point out the installations undertaken by Bosasa, which included CCTV systems and perimeter lighting.
He was adamant, however, that no electric fencing had been installed at his properties.
But, the cameras and lights installed by Bosasa were there for all to see.
Mantashe, who was ANC secretary-general at the time, said the systems were paid for by former Bosasa director Papa Leshabane, a family friend, after initially stating the ANC had carried the costs.
It had never been definitively proved that anyone actually paid for the systems, other than Bosasa.
The backdrop to this was that Bosasa, since 2004, secured more than R10 billion in government contracts, and bribed their way clear.
In 2009, the SIU finalised a report that found Bosasa had paid bribes to former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti and the department’s former chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham.
A decade later, Agrizzi, Mti, Gillingham and other Bosasa staff were charged in connection with the SIU report findings – only after Agrizzi had blown the whistle and started revealing details of the corruption.
It appeared that now that Agrizzi’s evidence had been found to have substance by the Hawks and prosecutors, it remained to be seen how long it would take for law enforcement to act on the others he implicated.