The mysterious deaths and death threats surrounding Bosasa

The mysterious deaths and death threats surrounding Bosasa

The wreck in which Gavin Watson was killed, 26 August 2019. Picture: Screenshot

SA has been left with more questions than answers as some have labelled previous deaths suspicious.

The death of septuagenarian Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson on Monday left not only EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, but several others, with questions about the rate at which people involved or alleged to be involved with Bosasa are dying.

Watson died in a horrific car accident near OR Tambo Airport early on Monday morning after allegedly losing control of his vehicle and crashed into a concrete pillar.

Police are understood to be investigating a culpable homicide case. Watson’s untimely death left some on social media alleging that his car may have been tampered with.

His death follows after a number of other Bosasa-linked deaths.

A lawyer allegedly linked to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign died in his sleep and it was allegedly kept under wraps, according to online news site Africa News 24-7.

The top lawyer, Barry Eugene Farber, 67, was a co-founder of law firm Edelstein Farber Grobler (EFG). The news site alleged EFG was the same law firm whose Absa bank account into which Watson was said to have deposited a R500,000 donation to Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign.

EFG has, however, rebutted the allegation that Farber dying had to do with anything other than natural causes. The law firm confirmed Farber passed in the early hours of August 11 and that his family decided to have him buried later that afternoon in accordance with Jewish customs.

The firm also confirmed to News24 that at the time that Farber was not Ramaphosa’s lawyer, nor was he acting for the CR17 campaign.

In March, family and supporters of former correctional service national commissioner Vernie Petersen, who is said to have resisted Bosasa corruption, appealed to the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture to investigate his death, claiming it was suspicious.

Peterson died in February 2011, reportedly due to pneumonia. He was lauded for his brave anti-corruption stance in the face of death threats against himself and his family. This was in a statement by the #Justice4Vernie movement, which held a memorial in support of the former prison head in March this year.

During testimony at the state capture commission, former parliamentary correctional services committee chairperson Dannis Bloem described how Petersen had attempted to block an allegedly corrupt food tender being awarded to Bosasa.

A Mail and Guardian report stated that Bloem also appealed for an investigation into Petersen’s death.

“I am having a personal plea to the commission: please investigate the death of Vernie Petersen because [he] died a mysterious death.”

Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi also spoke pf death threats made on his life for testifying at the commission.

He claimed the threats were from Bosasa executives and said he reported the threats to the Hawks.

Agrizzi gave up his life of bribes, lies, and flashy cars after a near-death experience, he said in his testimony.

Proclaiming himself Watson’s right-hand man, Agrizzi told senior inquiry counsel Paul Pretorius that the reason for his tell-all testimony was due to the near-death experience which resulted in heart problems.

“It’s like becoming involved in a cult. You get so convinced what you are doing is right. I had a near-death experience – heart problems – and after that decided I could not continue. I was exposed to many unlawful activities.”

In June, an audio recording of a senior Bosasa executive discussing how there might be dire consequences for people who can’t be “trusted with information” emerged in the wake of Agrizzi being held at gunpoint and robbed.

Items worth an estimated R378,000, along with about R15,000 in cash, were taken in an incident captured on CCTV footage.

Agrizzi told The Citizen he felt it had been done as a “shake-up” to intimidate and silence him. “The words uttered were, ‘stop talking’,” he said.

“Do you think for a minute that certain people aren’t going to try absolutely everything to stop me, arrest me, and so on?” he said.

ALSO READ: ‘There are dangerous people out there,’ Bosasa chairman warns

An old audio recording of Bosasa chairman Johannes “Joe” Gumede appeared to show him casually discussing one case of someone he knew who was shot and killed because he spoke about “confidential things” – since “there are consequences for that”.

In the recording, understood to be from about 2017, the executive related a story of a man in a black empowerment deal who apparently didn’t keep to his side of a bargain “for being put there” and only looking after his own interests, which led to him being “shot in broad daylight” by “four guys” when he was “coming from the bank”.

WATCH: Angelo Agrizzi held at gunpoint

“The cops thought it was the Rolex Gang, but they didn’t even take anything,” said Gumede in the audio.

Agrizzi said the “Brian” being discussed by Gumede was lawyer Brian Biebuyck, who Gumede said was told to warn Agrizzi to keep quiet to avoid the same fate.

Gumede at one point explained that criminal gangs abuse the prison system to get away with murder. A killer would be let out of jail in the evening illegally, go off and kill a target in an organised hit, and then have “a nice alibi … he’s behind bars”.

“If you play with people’s lives … unfortunately, we are forgiving, but there’s people that are very dangerous out there,” warned Gumede.

He discussed the need to remain reliable because “people trust us with information … we forget sometimes that we live in a country with a high crime rate. People just knock you.”

He added that none of the people who executed the hit had ever been arrested either.

“So what I’m saying is: we all need to be mindful, and be careful, because none of us want to end up like that.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in a statement on Monday called for the police to probe the circumstances leading up to the fateful accident.

“The death of Gavin Watson may have a material impact on the work of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. It is therefore vital, given SAPS stating that a case of ‘culpable homicide’ has been opened, that even a whiff of foul play is dispelled by a thorough and transparent investigation by the SAPS. This is to ensure that other witnesses are not intimated by this incident and for the commission of inquiry to conduct its work without fear or favour.

“Angelo Agrizzi’s testimony as well as the revelations by DA leader Mmusi Maimane of the cosy and potentially corrupt relationship Bosasa has with the ANC and Ramaphosa, indicate that Gavin Watson had a lot to say before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry.

“We call upon the SAPS to take the nation into its confidence once an investigation into the death of Gavin Watson is completed.

“We extend our condolences to his family and loved ones during this time.”

(Compiled by Gopolang Moloko. Background reporting, Charles Cilliers)

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

today in print