Angelo Agrizzi, the former chief operations officer of Bosasa Operations, said today that the company had used various methods to hide the evidence of its alleged corruption, including orchestrating a fake server crash, setting alight computers and a tranche of documents, and literally burying them into a hole.
Testifying at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State capture, Agrizzi said that when the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) started probing and compiling a report into the affairs of Bosasa, chief executive Gavin Watson panicked and ordered a system wipe out of any incriminating evidence.
The SIU report dealt with four multi-billion rand contracts Bosasa held with the Department of Correctional Services for catering, access control, CCTV and fencing. It also had details of Bosasa corruption, including a matric dance dress for former correctional services chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham’s daughter that Bosasa paid for.
This was after negative media reports surfaced about how Bosasa used its VIP account with travel agent, Blake’s Travel, to facilitate and bankroll holiday trips and travel arrangements of senior government officials linked to its lucrative contracts, including former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti and his wife.
Agrizzi said when media reports around Bosasa’s corruption emerged, Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson instructed him and chief financial officer Andries van Tonder to attend to Blake’s Travel and collect all documents and computers and destroy them.
“After collecting all computers and documents, we drove to Luipaardsvlei hostel, a property which belonged to Bosasa and at that stage was being revamped and was a construction site, opposite Bosasa offices,” Agrizzi said.
“There was already an existing hole. We threw all the collected items into the hole. Ryno Roode, an employee of Bosasa, brought us petrol, which we poured over the items, and set them alight. After the fire had burnt out, Gerhard van der Bank, another Bosasa employee, operated a front-end loader to close up the hole.”
Agrizzi said after that incident, Watson instructed an employee at Bosasa to re-write the travel orders using fictitious names as part of the cover-up.
Following that incident, Agrizzi said Watson instructed one of the IT specialists to fake a server crash and destroy files that could implicate the company, before the investigators could gather evidence. But before certain information was destroyed on the servers, Agrizzi said copies were made of the hard drives.
Agrizzi said one Sunday while he was entertaining American clients for lunch, Watson called and told him that the SIU would raid Bosasa offices the following day.
Agrizzi said he was then instructed to rush to the Bosasa office and get rid of all the incriminating documents, particularly in relation to Phezulu Fencing and an agreement between Mti and Watson regarding payments of bribes. Mti was allegedly on a hefty R100,000 retainer from Bosasa after facilitating a R486 million contract to fence 66 prisons across the country.
He said the SIU officials eventually did make mirror images of Bosasa servers, but Watson managed to hire two men to delete the incriminating evidence.
Agrizzi, who has been on the witness stand longer than anyone since the commission began in August, continues with his testimony tomorrow.
– African News Agency (ANA)