K-words and lies: Agrizzi’s testimony comes to dramatic end
Former Bosasa exec ends his evidence at the state capture probe – and is forced to defend himself in the process
Ex-Bosasa boss Angelo Agrizzi's bombshell testimony ended on Tuesday with he himself appearing a bit shell-shocked, admitting "to his shame" he is a racist after sitting through a recording peppered with the k-word.
Earlier in the day, he was forced to admit he "messed up" a question about the Sunday Times where he stated as fact he had not been approached for comment, a claim proven to be untrue.
His credibility as a witness was questioned on more than one level.
Agrizzi came under heavy questioning from evidence leader Paul Pretorius, who told him on Tuesday that the commission of inquiry into state capture had received a submission from the Sunday Times that Agrizzi lied under oath on Monday when he said that the newspaper did not contact him for comment on a story about the intended sale of his assets.
The newspaper submitted e-mails between journalist Bongani Fuzile and Agrizzi on Friday last week in which Fuzile details a number of questions to Agrizzi. Agrizzi responded to the e-mail, asking for time to respond.
Pretorius said: “You had the opportunity. Whether you made use of the opportunity is another story. The simple truth is that you were given the opportunity to respond and you did not make use of the opportunity.”
Agrizzi said: “My answer is if you say to me, did you have an opportunity to respond to the press, yes I did.”
He later amended his statement, saying he responded to the e-mail, noting the query, but was not given enough time to respond to the questions.
The inquiry also presented Agrizzi with a sound clip recorded by one of Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson’s relatives during a meeting at Agrizzi’s home in August 2018.
The meeting took place after Agrizzi was allegedly offered R50m over five years, and R250,000 per month, to “keep quiet” about the goings on within the company.
In the recording, Agrizzi can be heard using the k-word repeatedly. The racist remarks were said to be directed at his former colleagues, Joe Gumede and Papa Leshabane.
Agrizzi pleaded with the inquiry to consider the facts in his evidence despite his racist remarks, which may be used to argue that his tell-all testimony is motivated by racism toward his colleagues at Bosasa.
“I noticed that there was a lot of fiddling around in the pockets and I presumed they were recording the meeting. In hindsight, I should not have had the meeting because I was not myself ... I knew they were recording me ... In my gut I knew it,” Agrizzi said.
“I’m embarrassed of myself, I’m ashamed of myself for ever doing that ... I am a racist. Judge me on that. I have admitted it and I am sorry.”
Pretorius asked Agrizzi how he would respond to the accusation that his testimony is motivated by racism.
“My answer to that is ... work off the facts, please. I made a mistake, I shamed my family. I’m paying the price for it. I don’t see how somebody can say that I’m being racist when I’m pointing out the facts. The two people I refer to using the k-word is Papa Leshabane and Joe Gumede. When people threaten you, you do do stupid things. I’m not making excuses,” Agrizzi said.
It is believed Agrizzi will in future take the stand for cross-examination. He will also forward supplementary affidavits to the commission.
Bosasa’s former chief financial officer, Andries van Tonder, is expected to continue where Agrizzi left off.
He appeared before the inquiry briefly on Tuesday where he described how his relationship with Watson deteriorated over the almost 20 years he worked at the company. His testimony will continue on Wednesday.