/ 21 January 2019

Bosasa and the Moyane money

Moyane made headlines after he was fired as the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service
Moyane made headlines after he was fired as the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018. (Paul Botes/M&G)

Bosasa had to increase the bribe money paid to the department of correctional services when Tom Moyane entered the picture as its national commissioner, the Zondo commission of inquiry heard on Monday.

During the testimony of former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi, it emerged that the 2010 appointment of Moyane coincided with an additional R250 000 having to be paid to the department monthly.

According to Agrizzi, Bosasa ended up forking out R750 000 a month to pay the department. The money was allegedly being split between department officials. Agrizzi could not confirm whether or not Moyane himself received a share of this money.

Politically connected middleman Sesinyi Seopela was in charge of handling the payment to the department other government departments.

“The cash handed to Seopela was distributed by him and he from time to time confirmed payments to some individuals. The money I handed to Seopela on a monthly basis,” Agrizzi told the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. These payments were allegedly carried out from 2008 to 2016.

Agrizzi said Seopela told him of the new arrangement that was struck after Moyane’s appointment.

In 2010, the Mail & Guardian revealed Moyane had decided to fight a court bid by a rival catering company Royal Sechaba which aimed to block the awarding of a catering contract worth almost R1-billion to Bosasa.

READ MORE: Prisons tender U-turn

Moyane’s predecessor, Xoliswa Sibeko, had reportedly previously indicated that she would not be defending the application.In its 2010 application to the Pretoria high court, Royal Sechaba claimed that an anonymous correctional services employee had informed it that its tender bid was being “tampered with”, asking the court to re-adjudicate the tender.

The department, under Sibeko’s leadership, reportedly decided not to defend the matter.The M&G has not seen the opinion, but Sibeko’s approach strongly suggests that she was advised that Royal Sechaba has a strong case and that the department would save money by not defending the matter.

But after Moyane’s appointment in May 2010, the department informed Royal Sechaba that it would defend Bosasa’s appointment. At the time, the department declined to comment on this change of heart.

At the time of Sibeko’s dismissal, she reportedly opposed the extension of Bosasa’s contract and supported the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) probe into the company’s dealings with the department.

In 2007, the SIU began investigating Bosasa for alleged improper conduct relating to tenders the company was awarded. The SIU’s 2009 report on the company found that Bosasa officials had paid bribes to former prisons boss Linda Mti and the department of correctional services’ then chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham, to secure tenders from the department. The report was handed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).On Monday, Agrizzi told the commission that Seopela was well connected with high-ranking officials in the NPA, the Hawks and the Scorpions. Agrizzi said he was “shocked” Seopela’s ability to verify information they had received particularly in relation to the investigation into Bosasa.

Moyane made headlines after he was fired as the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018. His axing followed the recommendation made by Judge Robert Nugent that immediate action was needed to forestall any further deterioration of our tax administration system.

“He arrived without integrity and then dismantled the elements of governance one by one. This was more than mere mismanagement. It was seizing control of Sars as if it was his to have,” Nugent said in his final report.