With Watson gone, let’s hope NPA focuses on Guptas

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With Watson gone, let’s hope NPA focuses on Guptas

Cyril must be in a sweat following the news, but it makes things a lot simpler for Shamila Batohi

Peter Bruce

Monday morning news of Bosasa boss Gavin Watson’s death in a car accident solves two immediate problems. First, it would lead the front pages of most daily newspapers on Tuesday. Second, it will make life much simpler for Shamila Batohi and her colleagues at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecuting corruption.

An explanation of the first is hardly necessary. This is a Big Deal, whether it was an accident, an “assisted” assassination or a suicide. Watson, 73, in the wake of evidence by former employee Angelo Agrizzi to the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, was one of the central figures, allegedly paying bribes to a wide range of politicians and officials in return for contracts for Bosasa, (now called African Global Operations or AGO) to supply services in prisons and other state institutions both before and (mainly) during the presidency of Jacob Zuma.

With him out of the way, a lot of people will be breathing a sigh of relief. Much of Agrizzi’s evidence was hearsay – without hearing Watson’s side of the story it will lose much of its power. The only politician who will be genuinely alarmed (please let him not be shocked) at news of Watson’s death will be President Cyril Ramaphosa. It was the revelation nearly a year ago of Watson’s “contribution” of R500,000 to #CR17, Ramaphosa’s campaign to win leadership of the ANC in December 2017, that ignited the leaking of the campaign’s accounts and an uproar that continues to this day. Ramaphosa badly wanted Watson at the Zondo commission...

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