In a surprising turn of events, former ANC MP Vincent Smith handed himself over to police in Alberton on Thursday morning, appeared in the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, and was granted R 30 000 bail, for allegedly benefitting off a relationship with Bosasa (now known as African Global Operations) officials.
The accused faces one count of fraud and one of corruption, while his company – Euroblitz 48 – also faces a corruption charge.
Following a brief appearance at the commercial crimes court, the accused was granted bail by Magistrate P Venter, and is expected back in court on October 14.
Part of his bail arrangement was that he submit his passport and not change his physical address without adequate notice.
The fraud charges relate to suspected non-disclosure of benefits he received from Bosasa officials.
While Smith has been referred to as a ‘senior’ ANC official in reports, the EFF’s Julius Malema slammed the title, calling for “real” senior politicians to be arrested in the Bosasa probes.
“Current and former ministers, they are the ones who must be arrested and be referred to as senior politicians, not some deflection,” he tweeted.
Smith’s arrest was welcomed by the UDM’s Bantu Holomisa who questioned where the long Bosasa chain ended, given that there were “honchos” in the ruling party in a similar situation.
Testifying at the commission of inquiry into state capture, Smith issued testimony focused on his failure to declare certain benefits given to him by Bosasa executives, COO Angelo Aggrizzi and the late CEO Gavin Watson.
‘It was a loan from Agrizzi, not Bosasa’
Speaking on a loan he received from former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi totalling R800 000 through Euro Blitz 48, the politician said the agreement was made with Agrizzi personally and not with Bosasa.
While former Bosasa operations chief Angelo Agrizzi was charged alongside Smith, he did not appear in court, citing poor health. His legal team handed the State a doctor’s letter.
It is alleged that security cameras and an electric fence were installed at his home in Roodepoort, News24 previously reported. The value of the installation is estimated to be R40 000.
In an affidavit read out in court, Smith maintained his innocence and denied the allegations “in the strongest terms”.
The loan was for his daughter’s university tuition and was paid in two separate payments in 2015 and 2016.
When asked by evidence leader advocate Viwe Notshe why he borrowed money from “a company that is reported to have been involved in corruption,” Smith replied that he did not borrow money from any company.
“A loan agreement was between me and Angelo Agrizzi and there is correspondence by way of SMS,” he said.
He added that Agrizzi had asked him to help his unemployed son, saying “I do this all the time in my constituency”.
“My loan was with Angelo. Nowhere in the records of the deposit is there any reference to Bosasa.
“I had gone to Angelo Agrizzi on the basis of the relationship we created. It was never ever a Bosasa agreement.”
Smith added that, in terms of the contract, he would repay Agrizzi.
(Additional reporting by News24 Wire)