Zondo commission: Bosasa’s back

The Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture is set to hear more evidence relating to Bosasa, as the firm’s former auditor, Peet Venter, is set to give evidence on Tuesday.

Venter’s name was first raised at the commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — in relation to former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi’s bombshell testimony.

Agrizzi will give more evidence before the commission this week.

In January, Agrizzi testified to his knowledge of the content of a controversial affidavit by Venter. In the affidavit, Venter details allegations of tax fraud and racketeering against Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson.

READ MORE: The Bosasa tally: R12-billion

In the affidavit, Venter claims that Watson was going to avoid prosecution for his alleged crimes by laying the blame on Agrizzi and former Bosasa chief financial officer Andries van Tonder.

“Gavin Watson always wants someone else to blame for his actions … It is a constant and disturbing pattern that Gavin Watson would instruct people to act illegally and then discard them or get rid of them as he felt it got rid of the evidence,” Venter’s affidavit reads.

“Interestingly Gavin Watson would never sign anything so as to exonerate himself from any wrongdoing.”

In 2007, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) launched a probe into Bosasa’s lucrative contracts with the department of correctional services.

The SIU’s report was completed in 2009 and nearly a decade later, in February 2019, those implicated in the report — including Agrizzi, Van Tonder and former department of correctional services officials Linda Mti and Patrick Gillingham — were arrested by the Hawks. Watson was not implicated in the SIU’s final report.

READ MORE: Bosasa to Maimane: ‘No record of R500k contract with Andile Ramphosa’

Venter’s affidavit made headlines on 2018, after Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane questioned President Cyril Ramaphosa about a payment of R500 000 made out to the president’s son, Andile Ramaphosa, by Bosasa. The party later released Venter’s affidavit in which the payment is mentioned.

Venter claims in his affidavit that Watson instructed him to make the payment towards the Andile Ramaphosa Foundation.

In his response to Maimane, Ramaphosa told National Assembly his son had conducted business with Bosasa, but that the deal was above board and was contracted. However, Andile denied that the payment was for his benefit.

Ramaphosa subsequently backtracked on his response after it was revealed that the October 2017 payment was actually a donation towards his ANC presidential campaign which he was made without his knowledge.

READ MORE: Bosasa saga: ‘The President didn’t declare it because it’s dirty money’ — Maimane

In January, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane confirmed that she would be investigating whether Ramaphosa lied about the campaign donation.

In his statement to the public protector, Ramaphosa said he did not deliberately mislead Parliament, saying his initial response to Maimane was based on an assumption he made after learning two months earlier that his son had done business with Bosasa.

Ramaphosa said he “did not have an opportunity to reflect on the question in its totality, to examine what was being averred in the affidavit that Mr Maimane said he had in his possession.”

He added that he was not aware at the time that Watson had made the donation to his ANC presidential campaign.

Read Venter’s affidavit below:

Peet Venter Affidavit by Mail and Guardian on Scribd

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.

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