Agrizzi: Frolick paid to ‘break the ice’ with Vincent Smith

Former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi has implicated another ANC MP in Bosasa’s scheme to gain a monopoly over lucrative contracts with the department of correctional services.

During his testimony before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Friday, Agrizzi revealed that Cedrick Frolick, a senior governing party MP, helped Bosasa “break the ice” with the then chair of Parliament’s correctional services portfolio committee, Vincent Smith.

Agrizzi further alleged that Frolick, at the behest of Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson, was paid R40 000 a month by Bosasa for his co-operation.

According to Agrizzi, Frolick was an old friend of the politically connected Watson family. Agrizzi told the commission that Frolick was asked by Watson to resolve the impasse between Bosasa and Smith, who at the time was “very anti-Bosasa”.

During his bombshell testimony before the commission last January, Agrizzi alleged that Smith had been brought into the fold, receiving monthly cash payments of R45 000 as well as help paying his daughter’s university tuition.

In 2018, Smith confirmed that he received the funds, but denied knowledge that the money was paid by Bosasa.

He reportedly said he had entered into a personal loan agreement with Agrizzi, and was led to believe Agrizzi was lending him the funds out of his own pocket. During his January testimony, Agrizzi denied this allegation, calling it “totally devoid of the truth”.

On Friday, Agrizzi said Frolick was asked to help arrange a meeting with Smith in around 2010. At the time Bosasa had received heightened media scrutiny, partly because of the revelations contained in the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) 2009 report on the firm’s contracts with the department of correctional services.

In November 2009, then SIU head Willie Hofmeyr briefed Parliament about the unit’s findings, which alleged that former prisons commissioner Linda Mti and former department of correctional services chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham received gifts in exchange for their cooperation in awarding four multi-million rand contracts to Bosasa.

According to Agrizzi, Smith was eventually brought in to ensure that the negative media coverage against Bosasa would not preclude further tenders being awarded to the firm.

On Friday, Agrizzi recalled one meeting with Frolick and Watson during which the Bosasa chief executive asked the MP to “do whatever he could do to win over Vincent Smith, or alternatively find a way to have him moved”.

According to Agrizzi, Watson left the boardroom where the meeting was being held to go to the vault. When Watson returned from the vault, he opened his jacket pocket and put a grey security bag in Frolick’s pocket, Agrizzi claims.

Agrizzi has previously told the commission that these grey security bags were used by Bosasa to deliver cash bribes.

He added that shortly after the meeting, Frolick co-ordinated a meeting in Cape Town with Smith. The meeting with Smith was attended by Agrizzi, Frolick and former Bosasa chairperson, Gibson Njenje.

Agrizzi said the meeting did not go well, but said they had “started to break the ice”.

The former Bosasa COO’s testimony continues.

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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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