State capture commission former secretary says allegations against him are hearsay

There is no doubt that facilities company Bosasa was involved in “grand corruption”, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said on Friday, as he continued hearing testimony before the commission probing state capture.

Zondo, who chairs the commission, asked its former secretary, Khotso De Wee, why the department of justice had awarded tenders to Bosasa even after allegations of corruption at the company came to light.

“You were in a leadership position within the department. Why did the department continue to give contracts to an entity that is publicly associated with serious allegations of corruption?” asked Zondo. 

De Wee’s response was that, had he known then what he knew now, things might have gone differently.

De Wee went on special leave from the commission in January  2019 after former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi alleged that he had received bribes from the company.

Agrizzi testified that he had been told that De Wee was one of several senior officials at the department of justice and constitutional development who received bribes so that Bosasa would be awarded tenders, including one to supply 127 courts with security systems. The bribe was allegedly given to De Wee during his tenure as chief operating officer of the justice department.

On Friday, De Wee told the state capture commission the allegations against him were “hearsay” and strenuously denied Agrizzi’s evidence.

Evidence leader Veruschka September took De Wee back to events before the tender to Bosasa was awarded in 2008. At the time, De Wee was chairperson of the bid evaluation committee, which recommended contracts to the department’s adjudication committee before they were handed over to the accounting officer. 

During the evaluation process for this particular tender, the committee sought legal advice from the justice department and the treasury. They gave conflicting opinions on whether it should carry on with the process or start anew. 

The treasury said the tender should be readvertised and the justice department said the tender should either be withdrawn and the process restarted or, alternatively, to “go ahead”. De Wee’s committee chose the latter option.

He told the Zondo commission that the matter was urgent because there were concerns “about the [security] situation at the courts”, so the committee took the advice of the justice department. 

September then noted that security systems for only 95 of the 127 courts were installed and wanted to know why Sondolo IT, a company linked to Bosas, was paid in full for the work.

De Wee referred the inquiry to a forensic audit report commissioned by the justice department relating to this tender, which showed that R601-million was requested but the full amount was not paid. 

“So ultimately, it looks like R600-million was not spent,” he said.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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