Jiba still reeling from Agrizzi’s ‘reputational damage’

Jiba still reeling from Agrizzi’s ‘reputational damage’

Angelo Agrizzi, the former operations head of the security firm once known as Bosasa, has given damning testimony about the bribes the company paid to South African ministers, elected officials and high-ranking officials of the ruling ANC party. AFP/File/WIKUS DE WET

‘The collateral damage that was done cannot be lost,’ says the axed NPA director’s lawyer.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) former deputy national director Nomgcobo Jiba is still reeling from the effects of reputational damage caused by the January testimony of former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi, who alleged that she was on the facilities management company’s pocket, said her senior counsel Zola Majavu to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

Jiba yesterday (Tuesday) brought an application for leave to cross-examine Agrizzi, which was postponed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo who ruled that it be set down for a later date when correctional services former national commissioner Linda Mti took the stand, to shed more light on Agrizzi’s evidence.

It is not yet known when Mti, alleged to have played a central role in acts of large-scale graft involving senior government officials, will testify.

Dropping bombshells during his testimony before Zondo, Agrizzi gave details of a meeting at Mti’s home, also attended by Bosasa chief executive officer Gavin Watson, where discussions were held on how to “sort out” key individuals within the NPA through bribes in return for information on investigations that fingered Bosasa executives and business associates.

According to Agrizzi, three key NPA officials who were offered large sums of money by Bosasa, were Jiba, Lawrence Mrwebi, and Jackie Lepinka.

“Mti would tell us that he met weekly with the persons whom he gave codenames so that they would not be compromised,” explained Agrizzi during his testimony.

Codenames and monthly bribes:

  • Jiba was called “Snake” for being “very alert and always poised to strike”, receiving R100,000.
  • Lepinka who was referred to as “Jay”, got R20,000.
  • Mrwebi was called “Snail” because of being “slow and very lethargic”, pocketing R10,000.

READ MORE: Zondo postpones Jiba’s application to cross-examine Agrizzi

In his argument for leave to cross-examine Agrizzi, Majavu said: “Due to my client’s integrity and fitness to hold office, having been put into question at the Mokgoro Commission of Inquiry, Miss Jiba wants to test the truthfulness of Mr Agrizzi’s testimony.

“It is the manner in which the allegations were made which caused reputational damage to my client, something that continues unabated today.

“The collateral damage that was done cannot be lost.

“Based on this, we think we are entitled to cross-examine him, even he says this was hearsay.”

In April, Mokgoro recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa fire Jiba and Mrwebi from their senior positions at the NPA, after finding the two to be dishonest, lacking in integrity, and being unfit to hold office.

Majavu said it was “unfortunate that the allegations were made when she held an important position in public office, with the allegations having an impact on her”.

He added: “This is not just about the payments she is alleged to have received but serious accusations of an obstruction of justice for leaking information on Bosasa investigations.

“It is not something we can just gloss over.”

Ruling that the matter be postponed, Zondo replied: “My thinking is that Mr Agrizzi may say he has no personal knowledge whether any bribes were paid to her.

“He may say he was told by Mr Mti and Mr Watson that some of the money was destined for Miss Jiba.

“I believe Mr Mti will come to the commission in due course and give evidence.

“If he says he did hand over monies, then he could be a good candidate for Miss Jiba’s cross-examination.”

Advocate Julie-Anne Harwood, who represented Agrizzi, said the allegations would no longer be hearsay when Mti testified.

“Mr Mti or Mr Watson would be the best to say something on this,” she said.

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