'Senior ANC MPs were recruited by Bosasa'

Former top boss of corruption-accused facilities management company Bosasa, Angelo Agrizzi, is testifying at the commission into state capture in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Former top boss of corruption-accused facilities management company Bosasa, Angelo Agrizzi, is testifying at the commission into state capture in Parktown, Johannesburg.
Image: Alaister Russell

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 yesterday, Agrizzi said 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 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," Agrizzi told the commission.

"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.

" ... 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 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 make sure they could manage it so it wouldn't stop Bosasa from getting any new business."

Agrizzi 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 the monthly payment be increased to R100,000 - to which Bosasa complied. He also detailed how, after a crime occurred at Smith's home, Bosasa installed security upgrades. Smith is said to have also requested Bosasa to pay his daughter's overseas university fees. In one of the payments, Agrizzi said Bosasa paid R276,000 to a British university in 2016 for Smith's daughter's tuition fees.

Last year, Smith asked to be removed as chair of parliament's constitutional review committee until a probe into allegations he received large sums of money from Bosasa was finalised. At the time, Smith said he entered into an agreement for a personal loan with Agrizzi.

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