The relationship between Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson and former president Jacob Zuma made the controversial businessman feel untouchable, the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Monday.
“He [Watson] believed he was totally bulletproof … with Mr Zuma on his side,” former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi told the commission on the eighth day of his testimony.
Watson would often praise Zuma at length during at morning meetings at the company, Agrizzi said.
Agrizzi has previously recounted how Watson had allegedly fostered a relationship with Zuma, whom he is said to have approached to help in shutting down an ongoing National Prosecuting Authority case against Bosasa.
The case was the result of a 2009 investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into allegations of improper tenders awarded to Bosasa by the department of correctional services.
Agrizzi told the commission that monthly payments of R300 000 were made to the Jacob Zuma Foundation by Bosasa through its chairperson, Dudu Myeni.
According to Agrizzi, Myeni co-ordinated numerous meetings Zuma’s Nkandla residence to discuss matters with the then president. Watson also allegedly met Zuma alone at Nkandla.
At one meeting, Watson allegedly raised the issue of the Bosasa investigation with Zuma, whom Agrizzi said agreed to facilitate a meeting between senior Hawks officials and Bosasa director Joe Gumede.
Agrizzi also elaborated on allegations that Myeni had handed him confidential NPA documents at a 2015 meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria.
The meeting took place at a VIP lounge on the sixth floor, Agrizzi said. A nervous Myeni allegedly produced a case docket relating to the NPA’s Bosasa investigation and asked Agrizzi not to take photographs of it.
But after realising that he would not have enough time to make written notes about the contents of the document, Agrizzi covertly photographed the document, the witness told the commission.
In the background of the photograph, Agrizzi also allegedly captured the pattern of the carpet at the Sheraton Hotel, an aspect of Agrizzi’s evidence that the commission’s legal team has corroborated.
At the meeting Watson asked Myeni to put the case to bed and requested that Myeni speaks to Zuma about this, Agrizzi said.
On Monday, Myeni denied her purported ties to Bosasa, reportedly telling eNCA that Agrizzi is a racist and lying about her involvement.
Agrizzi also recounted how, when the Nkandla scandal broke in the media, Watson told an open meeting of Bosasa executives that he had instructed Zuma to call in former Hawks head Anwar Dramat and shut down the investigation.
Dramat was allegedly close to Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, whom Agrizzi has previously said received payments from Bosasa in exchange for her protection relating to the SIU investigation. Mokonyane’s proximity to Zuma made her a powerful ally, Agrizzi told the commission. But, according to Agrizzi, Dramat was not taking Mokonyane’s phone calls at the time.
Last Thursday, Agrizzi recounted how Dramat was blocking their efforts to secure the Bosasa docket.