Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) is challenging former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi’s testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture.
Agrizzi told the commission on Tuesday of a 2007 meeting with a man who went by the name “Sbu”, who Agrizzi said was the General Secretary of Popcru. In the meeting, Agrizzi said, Bosasa agreed to pay officials in the department of correctional services R1-million a month to put pressure on then national prisons commissioner Vernie Petersen.
According to Agrizzi, the Bosasa meeting with Sbu, Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson and former prison’s commissioner Khulekani Sithole was meant to discuss how to “swing” Peterson to Bosasa’s side.
The pressure, Agrizzi explained, would be applied through Popcru.
In a press statement released on Wednesday, Popcru fired back saying, “There has never been any Popcru office-bearer by the name “Sbu”, nor Sibusiso or any other similar name.”
The union said it planned to investigated who impersonated the union’s secretary general: “We are not and can never be deterred by individuals who would falsely claim to be Popcru leaders and bargain for their narrow self-interests by falsely claiming to have secured buy-in from our union as having endorsed these malpractices that have paralysed the DCS [the department of correctional services]. If anything, these are fabricated falsehoods since at the said time it was widely known that Popcru was a critic of the direction the DCS was taking.”
The union pointed out that it had been involved in reporting corrupt activities to the media.
“To set the record straight, it was Popcru who at the time this meeting is purported to have taken place exposed the relationship between Bosasa, Phezulu Fencing and Sondolo IT. They all had a similar address,” the statement read.
Phezulu Fencing and Sondolo IT are owned by Bosasa. Phezulu Fencing was awarded a R486-million tender for security fencing at 66 prisons in 2005, and Sondolo IT was awarded a R237-million contract the same year to supply and install CCTV systems in 66 prisons too.
“We distance our union and its officials from such allegations and will not be defocused from continuing to expose the malpractices that have over the years entrenched themselves within the DCS because we maintain that it has drastically deviated from its core mandate.”