Bosasa bombshells keep coming

The Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture continues on Monday, as the testimony of former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi enters its eighth day — the longest hearing to date.

Agrizzi’s bombshell testimony has already implicated a number of government heavyweights and high-ranking government officials, including Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, ANC MP Vincent Smith, erstwhile South African Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane, suspended deputy head of prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba and head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s specialised commercial crime unit Lawrence Mrwebi.

According to Agrizzi, Bosasa maintained its hold on various government entities through the ubiquitous bribing of officials. On Thursday, Agrizzi corroborated aspects of his testimony by taking the commission through one of his “little black books”, a record of people who received monthly payments from Bosasa and the amount they were paid.

READ MORE: ‘Journalists were paid by Bosasa’ — Agrizzi

While going through the list of some of these names, Agrizzi alleged that Papa Leshabane, the company’s spokesperson, used some part of R71 000 to pay off journalists. Agrizzi did not name the journalists who allegedly received a portion of Bosasa’s bribe money.

The revelation came in the wake of increased discord between the media and the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Last week Zondo took the media to task after various weekend reports published aspects of Agrizzi’s leaked testimony.


READ MORE: Zondo slams ‘money-hungry’ media

Regulation 11(3) of the commission’s governing rules stipulates that:“No person shall without the written permission of the Chairperson (a) disseminate any document submitted to the Commission by any person in connection with the inquiry or publish the contents or any portion of the contents of such document; or (b) peruse any document, including any statement, which is destined to be submitted to the Chairperson or intercept such document while it is being taken or forwarded to the Chairperson.” 

Regulation 12(2)(c)(ii) goes on to state that any person who contravenes Regulation 11 “is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction … to a fine, or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months”.

Zondo questioned the intentions of the journalists who wrote the articles, suggesting that they did not do so in the interest of the public.

“It is wrong. It is unacceptable. It undermines the work or the commission. And for what? A scoop, to make a profit,” he said.

But the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) hit back at the Zondo commission, citing its failure to engage with them on the regulations.

READ MORE: Editors’ forum hits out at Zondo for ‘criminalising journalism’

On Saturday, after a meeting between Sanef representatives and the commission, both announced that they would engage in ongoing discussions “in order to deal with other issues on which they may still wish to find common ground”.

In a joint statement, it also emerged that Sanef had raised Agrizzi’s allegation that certain journalists were on the payroll of Bosasa with the commission.

“Sanef raised the serious dangers of this allegation in terms of casting aspersions on the journalism profession as a whole,” the statement reads.

According to the statement, the commission is bound to investigate this matter further as part of its work. Sanef, in turn, implored members of the public to forward any information they may have to the commission.

Sanef had previously been pulled into the Bosasa saga, after an email was leaked alleging that the firm made a R100 000 donation to a crowdfunding campaign set up by Sanef treasurer Adriaan Basson in aid of the SABC 8, who were suspended in 2016 by then chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng for speaking out about censorship at the public broadcaster.

According to the email, supposedly sent by Agrizzi to Bosasa chief accountant Carlos Bonifacio, finance employee Jacques van Zyl and former chief financial officer Andries van Tonder, instructions were given for the “strategic” donation to be made to the fund.

The SABC 8 say they were not aware of who made donations to the fund and Sanef confirmed in a statement that no donations were made by Bosasa. “We have had the opportunity to go through every one of the 394 donations made in July 2016 to the cause and could not find any donation from Bosasa and/or a person connected to Bosasa or a donation for R100 000.”

READ MORE: SABC 8 ‘dismayed’ by Bosasa donation claim

According to Sanef, donations were made mostly by members of the public.

In another statement, Sanef announced on Friday that it has appointed an independent auditing firm to look into the allegation.

“The emergence of an alleged email, purportedly from within Bosasa suggesting that they may have contributed to the SABC 8 has caused some members of the public to question the ethical commitments of Sanef,” the statement said.

“We want to state categorically that we never solicited funds from Bosasa.”

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

Related stories

Cartoon: No escapé for Signor Agrizzi

Angelo Agrizzi will have to enjoy the South African government’s hospitality for the time being

Sitting targets and lame ducks

Everybody’s staying pozi, which is making all the arrests easy for the Hawks. Only Ace is desperate to be seen

What is the noise about Ace?

The Hawks have distanced themselves from a news report that the ANC’s secretary general Ace Magashule has been issued with a warrant of arrest

Vincent Smith the first to head to court after blitz of Hawks arrests

Former ANC MP Vincent Smith has appeared in the specialised commercial crimes court on charges of corruption and fraud

‘We are painstakingly putting things right’ — Ramaphosa

Talking to the media, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he too was frustrated by the slow pace of justice around corruption, but that ‘the change that we have all wanted to see is unfolding’

Mokonyane: ‘There was nothing untoward about the ANC’s Bosasa ties’

The former minister likened the controversial firm to any other private sponsor of the governing party
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Vitamin therapy is for drips

It may be marketed by influencers, but intravenous vitamin therapy is not necessary and probably not worth the hype, experts say

Facebook, Instagram indiscriminately flag #EndSars posts as fake news

Fact-checking is appropriate but the platforms’ scattershot approach has resulted in genuine information and messages about Nigerians’ protest against police brutality being silenced

Murder of anti-mining activist emboldens KZN community

Mam’Ntshangase was described as a fierce critic of mining and ambassador for land rights.

Unite with Nigeria’s ‘Speak Up’ generation protesting against police brutality

Photos of citizens draped in the bloodied flag have spread around the world in the month the country should be celebrating 60 years of independence
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday