SIU goes after state capture evidence in bid to boost Bosasa probe
It is already monitoring the evidence of Agrizzi and co, and wants Cyril to sign off on an extension to its investigation
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to extend its 2009 Bosasa investigation to include evidence that has been brought before the state capture inquiry.
SIU head advocate Andy Mothibi said on Monday the unit’s governance committee was already monitoring the evidence led at the Zondo commission.
“We have obtained the necessary documentation, including related affidavits, through the commission channels. We are interacting with the national treasury, specifically to assess and validate some of the evidence or testimony ... in particular in connection with Bosasa agreements,” he told journalists.
He said the SIU was consulting with the treasury about these specific contracts, in order to obtain and validate “contract records, payment records” referred to in the testimony of former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi and other witnesses.
The SIU completed a report on alleged tender rigging involving Bosasa and senior correctional services officials, including the then national commissioner Linda Mti and chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham, in 2009.
But that report, which recommended the criminal prosecution of Mti, Gillingham and Bosasa officials – including Agrizzi – was not acted on for nearly a decade. This, Agrizzi has claimed, was because Bosasa bribed now suspended prosecutions bosses Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi. They deny this.
Agrizzi and other former Bosasa witnesses have testified about how they say Bosasa and its companies secured billions in state contracts through bribes and favours, including sponsorship of ANC election events.
But this new evidence can only be probed by the SIU, which specifically investigates and litigates for the cancellation of dodgy contracts and the recovery of monies linked to them, if the president approves the unit’s application to extend its 2009 investigation.
“Once the president is satisfied and signs off, it’ll then be gazetted,” Mothibi said, after confirming that SIU had yet to make such an application.
The presidency announced on Sunday that Ramaphosa had established a special tribunal aimed at fast-tracking the recovery – through court processes – of money linked to allegedly dodgy tenders.
On Monday, justice and correctional services minister Michael Masutha was forced to defend his department’s failure to take action or recover money linked to the alleged tender rigging exposed in the 2009 SIU report on Bosasa.
While stating that he had expressed his unhappiness to new prosecutions head Shamila Batohi about the state’s decade-long delay in pursuing criminal charges against those implicated in the report, Masutha defended his department’s decision to not sue Bosasa.
“When I studied the report of the SIU of 2009, it does not outline in any manner, with any detail, how the state was put out of pocket, so as to determine the quantum that you would then want to recover.”
He added that the “civil aspect of recovery can only be based on actual loss incurred”.
Masutha also revealed that his department had no choice but to continue allowing a Bosasa-linked company to protect SA’s courts, but had cancelled its last correctional services contract with the disgraced facility management company.
Masutha told journalists the department of justice and correctional services had already spent nearly R1bn on security contracts with Bosasa company Sondolo IT. These contracts were for the provision of CCTV services, including monitoring “identified high-risk court buildings”.
His department’s security management had “failed to prepare a business case and the requisite tender documents on time for the procurement of these services” when the latest Sondolo IT contract came to an end in 2018.
As a result, the company continued to provide services to the country’s courts “on a month-to-month basis, pending the finalisation of the necessary business case”.