‘Ntlemeza is the right guy: #StateCaptureInquiry hears damning recording

Johannesburg – The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture heard a recording on Thursday in which a voice purported to be that of Bosasa chief executive officer Gavin Watson boasted about how he was going to influence former President Jacob Zuma to appoint people of his choice at critical state institutions. 

The recording was made by Angelo Agrizzi, the former Bosasa chief operations officer and Watson’s right-hand man, who has been testifying for a week about how Bosasa allegedly bribed numerous government officials in order to score lucrative tenders. Agrizzi said when the dealings were under scrutiny by investigators, Bosasa bribed senior prosecutors to quash any possible prosecution. 

He told the commission that Bosasa was able to get its hands on crucial documents about 2009’s ongoing investigations into the company by the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) through an alleged corrupt relationship with senior prosecutors.

On Thursday, Agrizzi alleged that Watson paid a bribe of R100 000 a month to the former deputy national director of prosecutions, Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, from 2012 until Agrizzi left the company at the end of 2016. This was allegedly done in a bid to obtain crucial documents prepared by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prosecute Bosasa and its beneficiaries.

But when Jiba was herself under intense media scrutiny over her dealings, Agrizzi said Watson pushed for Jiba to get the Bosasa docket that the Hawks did not want to release. 

Agrizzi said that in May 2015 he accompanied Watson to a meeting with former correctional services commissioner, Linda Mti, at which Watson said he wanted to emphasise to Zuma that Jiba was compromised and was putting Bosasa at risk. Unbeknownst to Watson and Mti, Agrizzi made a recording of the meeting.

In the nine-minute recording, Watson can be heard mimicking how he would speak to Zuma and instruct him "to move people around in government".

Watson was speaking about how he was going to lobby Zuma to protect Jiba as she had tried to close down the prosecution, but former Hawks head Anwa Dramat was refusing to release the docket. As a result, Jiba took lead prosecutor Marijke de Kock off the case, but she was "smuggled back on to this case" in 2012.

Said Watson in the recording: "We need to get this thing shut down, Mr President. We need to get the right people in the right place. [Former Hawks head Berning] Ntlemeza is the right guy at that place. Now we have to get the right person at the NPA. You need to make the right decisions now, you haven’t got much time to go. That’s how I talk to him."

Watson goes on to say that he did not want to implicate the former head of the Special Investigative Unit, Advocate Willie Hofmeyr – even though "I know Willie is sitting on the fence and he has done things for you Mr President" – because Hofmeyr and former prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach were still talking to each other. 

Agrizzi said Watson ended up meeting Zuma later that month before Zuma jetted off to Russia. In June 2015, Zuma appointed advocate Shaun Abrahams as the national director of public prosecutions. Abrahams withdrew perjury charges against Jiba.

The commission adjourned for the week and will resume on Monday where Agrizzi will continue testifying. 

African News Agency (ANA)

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