Capture: ‘We dug a hole, burnt the evidence and then faked a server crash’
Former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi testifies how he and his colleagues literally buried evidence
Bosasa went to the extent of burning and burying crucial documents that implicated the company in wide-scale corruption, including footing travel and accommodation bills for senior government officials.
Former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi admitted that when media reports emerged in 2008 that placed Bosasa at the centre of scandals within the department of correctional services (DCS), members of the company, including himself, destroyed evidence implicating the company in corruption.
Agrizzi told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday that the company approached Blake’s Travel – an agency, he said, that Bosasa paid between R1.7m and R2.2m per month for travel and accommodation for politicians and government officials – when allegations of corruption began surfacing in the media.
He said he and other Bosasa staff members removed computers and documentation from the travel company, used a tractor-loader-backhoe (TLB) to dig a hole and set the evidence alight before burying it.
Agrizzi further alleged that Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson also instructed another staff member to recreate travel invoices from Blake’s Travel, replacing the names of government officials with those of Bosasa staff.
It was around the same time that the Special Investigating Unit was tasked to investigate the allegations surrounding Bosasa. The report emanating from the investigation found that Bosasa had bribed senior DCS officials. It was handed to the National Prosecuting Authority in 2009 but no criminal prosecution followed.
Agrizzi said he was also instructed to mimic a server crash within the company to disguise that they had destroyed internal documents.
“There was a disaster log created on the server. But I requested that it (information from the server) be preserved on two or three hard drives that I’ve made available to the commission and to the Hawks,” he said.
He spent most of his testimony on Tuesday detailing how Bosasa bribed senior DCS officials to secure lucrative contracts and undermine anybody who stood in its way.
Agrizzi said Bosasa allegedly oversaw the construction, and footed the bill for, lavish houses built for former prisons boss Linda Mti and DCS chief officer Patrick Gillingham. Bosasa underhandedly landed a massive R486m contract for fencing at about 66 prisons in 2005, while Mti was commissioner at DCS. He said he met Mti in 2007 after he resigned from the position, after which he was allegedly paid up to R65,000 per month for securing the lucrative fencing contract.
The company is said to have also paid for Mti’s travel costs, arranged holidays for him and his family, arranged flights and paid for his children’s education. Another big name that emerged in Agrizzi’s testimony on Tuesday is KwaZulu-Natal prisons boss Mnikelwa Nxele.
Nxele is said to be part of a “team” of government officials Bosasa plotted with to “place undue pressure” on former DCS national commissioner Vernie Petersen in 2007. Nxele was allegedly paid R57,500 a month to comply with Bosasa.
Agrizzi’s testimony is expected to continue on Wednesday.