ANC MPs got home security upgrades, university fees - Agrizzi
Former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi has detailed how the controversial prisons security company allegedly recruited senior ANC MPs, including Vincent Smith, to do its bidding.
Testifying at the state capture inquiry on Monday, Agrizzi said that Smith, along with two other members of parliament’s portfolio committee on correctional services, were allegedly paid a monthly stipend to manage Bosasa’s reputation within government.
Agrizzi also admitted to allegedly increasing a monthly bribe to R100,000 per month for Smith, footing the bill for security upgrades at his home and for his daughter’s university fees.
"I met Smith at parliament where I tried to get a meeting with him because he was being difficult. He didn’t want to have anything to do with Bosasa.
"I wanted to explain it to him what the company was about and do a presentation. I thought I could swing his mind to looking at us more favourably. I wanted him to work with us," Agrizzi told the commission.
"I didn’t believe that he knew the full extent of the company... He was openly very critical of the Special Investigating Unit report (into Bosasa). You could never phone him like you could with other people from parliament."
He said the first attempt at meeting Smith was around 2010 or 2011.
Then in 2011, Agrizzi said he was picked up by Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson and taken to a meeting at a hotel on Rivonia Road in Johannesburg. He said Smith and then ANC MPs Vuselelo Magagula and Winnie Ngwenya were present at the meeting.
All three were part of the portfolio committee on correctional services at the time.
"Smith alluded to us in the meeting and he spoke as though he had formed a relationship with [Watson] at a prior meeting. What was agreed at that meeting was that despite the negative press publicity and despite issues raised in the press that were in essence against Bosasa, that the parliamentary committee would keep quiet on it and they would make sure they could manage it so it wouldn’t stop Bosasa from getting any new business," Agrizzi said.
He alleged that Bosasa paid Smith R45,000 a month; Magagula R30,000; and Ngwenya R20,000.
He recalled one occasion where he met Smith at the Mugg & Bean restaurant at Clearwater Mall to make a payment. He described how Smith would sometimes wear a leather jacket and tuck the money into its pockets.
Agrizzi further alleged that Smith, in 2016, requested that the monthly payment be increased to R100,000 - with which Bosasa complied.
He also detailed how, after a crime occurred at Smith’s home, Bosasa installed security upgrades including cameras, an alarm system and improved fencing. Smith is said to have also requested Bosasa to pay his daughter's university fees.
In one of the payments, Agrizzi said Bosasa paid about R276,000 to a British university in 2016 for Smith’s daughter’s tuition fees. The money was allegedly paid to Smith's company EuroBlitz.
Smith asked in 2018 to be removed as chairman of parliament's constitutional review committee until a probe into allegations that he received large sums of money from Bosasa was finalised. In a statement at the time‚ Smith said he entered into an agreement for a personal loan with Agrizzi.
But Agrizzi denied this. He told the commission that Smith even offered to sell him shares at a hospital in Midrand, but he refused.