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Tape reveals Zuma link in muzzling Hawks

Publish date: 11 February 2019
Issue Number: 4635
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: Zondo inquiry

Yet another report on how former President Jacob Zuma became involved in the muzzling of a Hawks investigation into Bosasa has surfaced in the Sunday Times. It says a recording of a meeting shows the lengths to which the company would go to stop its employees and whistle-blowers speaking out. The meeting, in November 2017, included Bosasa board chair Joe Gumede, the company's youth development project manager Jackie Leyds and HR manager Johan Abrie. Also at the meeting were three state capture commission whistle-blowers, brothers Leon and Andries van Tonder, and Frans Vorster. The Sunday Times says it understands the recorded meeting was called in an effort to convince the Van Tonders and Vorster not to blow the whistle on the company's alleged corrupt practices. Gumede can be heard telling the meeting that he had been approached by the Hawks, saying these approaches occurred regularly. ‘I was approached by the Hawks for the same thing, me and Gavin. Gavin and myself, we went to see the old man… the President, on this matter … when this matter was starting to brew again … we went to see him and he promised that, he was going to Russia … he said before he goes he will call two people … and indeed he phoned them and we got feedback. The guys from the Hawks even showed us … every Monday they have a meeting to discuss all these things … that is confidential information … and in that meeting he showed us that the guys they wanted to charge were Angelo (Agrizzi) and Patrick (Gillingham) … None of you guys.’ Gumede is heard saying meetings with Hawks investigators were held every month. ‘The only people they can charge is those two (Agrizzi and Gillingham) … (We) even had a meeting at the Sheraton (hotel) as a follow-up. It was clear. For them to close this matter the only people they need to charge are those two.’

As reported in Legalbrief Today, Agrizzi testified last month that he and Watson met Zuma's friend, former SAA chair Dudu Myeni, at a Sheraton Hotel, where she showed them the NPA docket on the investigation of Bosasa. He said he could not recall the date of the meeting. The Sunday Times report notes that in the audio recording, Gumede says they don't want Agrizzi and Gillingham charged for fear they would implicate others in the company. Abrie interjects and says Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson will not appear on the Hawks' list of suspects ‘because he was never involved’. Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said information on how investigations were conducted was confidential. ‘The so-called muzzling is just wishful thinking. This is an attempt to rubbish the arrests and subsequent appearance of the six Bosasa accused,’ Mulaudzi said – a reference to last week’s arrest and court appearance of Agrizzi, Gillingham and others. Lawyer Daniel Witz confirmed that Agrizzi would testify before the Mokgoro Commission of Inquiry into the fitness of two deputy DPPs, Advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi. ‘As a result of the arrest he is confirming his rights in terms of the Constitution in order to ensure that he has a fair trial. Once this is established he will arrange a date to give testimony,’ he said.

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)

Witz also confirmed Agrizzi would give his testimony before the Zondo Commission. Witz reportedly told News24 that reports that Agrizzi was reconsidering co-operating further with the Zondo-led commission were ‘completely wrong’. ‘We have just spoken to Angelo now. His view is that he started this thing, and he wants to finish it,’ said Witz. ‘He is happy to go back to the commission and open himself up for cross-examination and for further testimony. However, he just wants a short period of time to confirm his right in terms of the Constitution, that he has in terms of the criminal trial against him, a fair trial in terms of the Constitution. ‘There is no intention of not going back,’ added Witz.

Full News24 report

The Hawks have dismissed Agrizzi claims that his arrest last week was aimed at sabotaging the state capture inquiry. Agrizzi reportedly told the Sunday Times he was ‘shocked’ that he and former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder had been arrested after their testimony at the Zondo Commission and before they faced cross-examination. Agrizzi, Van Tonder and former senior Correctional Services officials Linda Mti and Gillingham were arrested in connection with corruption related to Bosasa and two of its subsidiary companies. ‘One can only deduce the motive behind this was to discourage continuation of the state capture inquiry process,’ said Agrizzi. ‘Our arrests don't make any logical sense. We have spent the last 18 months trying to ensure the Bosasa corruption was exposed. We met with numerous key persons in various crime-fighting governmental agencies and co-operated with them as much as we possibly could, with no tangible results – except for our arrests.’ Agrizzi claimed that 22 potential witnesses to alleged Bosasa corruption are now reconsidering providing statements to the Zondo Commission. Mulaudzi – though conceding that Agrizzi had been assisting the Hawks with other Bosasa investigations at the time of his arrest – said the accusation was unfounded. ‘The arrests were made after the NPA gave the investigating team the go-ahead as they were satisfied that there is a strong case against the accused.’ NPA head of communications Bulelwa Makeke reportedly confirmed that new NPA boss Shamila Batohi had not been briefed ahead of the arrests. The NPA has confirmed the decision to prosecute was made by two prosecutors at the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit of the NPA – the unit previously run by suspended senior Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, who is facing accusations that the unit deliberately shut down the prosecution of former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)

On another Bosasa matter, ANC chairperson and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and his head of security, Mzonke Nyakaza, have admitted Bosasa had installed the CCTV cameras and perimeter lights at Mantashe’s three homes. However, according to a City Press report, Mantashe said the equipment was installed at the behest of Bosasa executive Papa Leshabane, whom he called a ‘family friend’. Mantashe invited journalists to his homes at the weekend to inspect the equipment. This after a storm erupted over the installation of the security equipment at various Ministers’ homes by Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations. Bosasa employee Richard le Roux testified before the state capture commission that he had also installed various security equipment at the homes of then Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, ANC MP Vincent Smith, Deputy Correctional Services Minister Thabang Makwetla, and former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni, among others. But on Saturday, Mantashe said he was unaware at the time that Leshabane was involved in any way with Bosasa. He claimed that he had done the installations for the then ANC secretary-general as a ‘family friend’. ‘At the time, I was secretary-general of the ANC, not a Minister, so it was not like there were any tenders that I could give in return for the installations. The installations were only done by Leshabane as a family friend,’ he reportedly said at his Boksburg home.

Full City Press report