/ 6 February 2009

Linda Mti’s Bosasa bonanza

Controversial facilities management group Bosasa lavished flights and luxury hotel stays on former prisons boss Linda Mti — while it landed prisons contracts worth more than R1-billion.

The mutually beneficial relationship between Bosasa and Mti, now head of security for the 2010 Local Organising Committee, is laid bare by travel records in the Mail & Guardian‘s possession.

They show that Bosasa:

  • Sponsored the domestic air fare of Mti and his family members on at least five occasions;
  • Paid for Mti’s stay at the luxury Hemingways hotel in East London on at least two occasions; and
  • Rented premium cars for Mti when he visited East London at least twice.

Mti received these benefits while prisons commissioner. During the last two years of his tenure the group won contracts from the correctional services department worth more than R1-billion. Mti failed to respond to numerous queries, while Bosasa’s lawyer advised the company not to answer the M&G‘s questions.

Mti left correctional services under a cloud of suspicion in 2006 after Beeld revealed that Bosasa’s company secretary, Tony Perry, had registered a private company for him. He was subsequently appointed head of security for the Fifa World Cup.

Bosasa’s travel records show that:

  • On June 15 2005 Mti flew to East London at Bosasa’s expense and was put up in the four-star Hemingways hotel for four nights. The company also paid for his Avis premium rental car. The trip came shortly after Sondolo IT, 40% owned by Bosasa Operations, won a R237-million contract for the supply and installation of access control systems and CCTV at 66 prisons on April 29 2005.
  • On July 25 2005 Bosasa sponsored the return airfare of Mti’s relative, Sehlule Mti, from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth and back. Three days later Bosasa paid for Mti and then National Intelligence Agency deputy director general Gibson Njenje to fly from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth.
    In December 2005 Bosasa company Phezulu Fencing won a R487-million tender to supply and install security fencing at 66 prisons.

  • On March 3 2006 Bosasa sponsored a weekend trip for Mti to East London, where he stayed in the Hemingways hotel’s presidential suite. Bosasa’s travel agent was instructed to rent a seven-seat Mercedes Benz Vito for Mti.

Two weeks later, on March 17 2006, Sondolo IT won a R224-million tender to install TV sets in all prison communal cells.

A day later Bosasa paid for Mti’s son, Vukani, to fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town on a return ticket.
Njenje told the M&G he was Bosasa’s founding non-executive chairman before being headhunted by the NIA. While in the NIA’s employ his travels to Port Elizabeth were covered by Bosasa twice — on June 10 and July 28 2005.

He told the M&G he saw no problem with Bosasa paying for his travel while he was a state employee. ‘I was headhunted into a government position while active as a businessman with various interests. All I needed to do to comply with the employment conditions was to resign as an executive director from the companies,” he said.

‘My shareholding and all benefits accruing were a matter of declaring and that I did as required. Some of the companies I was a shareholder in had or have relations with Bosasa. My private travel expenses would be one of the benefits that accrued to all the shareholders of the companies I am referring to.

‘So, as it were, it was not a matter of Bosasa ‘sponsoring’ my travels, but an arrangement between companies.”

The M&G received three calls this week from ‘concerned Bosasa employees” who said they were afraid the M&G‘s reporting about their employer would cost them their jobs.

Two threatened to organise a protest march on the M&G‘s office, accusing the paper of being ‘racist” and printing ‘untruths”.

‘Who will look after my children if I don’t have a job anymore?” an employee from the East Rand said.

Bosasa spokesperson Papa Leshabane did not return the M&G‘s calls on the matter.

Here’s the proof

  • Annexure A: Confirmation of travel booking for Linda Mti and Gibson Njenje by Bosasa’s travel agent

  • Annexure B: Email from Bosasa’s operations coordinator Angelo Agrizzi to Bosasa’s travel agent about ‘VIP booking” for Mti

  • Annexure C: Confirmation of travel and accommodation booking for Mti by Bosasa’s travel agent