K-word slur could cost Angelo Agrizzi R200K

Angelo Agrizzi at the State Capture Inquiry
Angelo Agrizzi at the State Capture Inquiry
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi might have to pay R200,000 in a settlement and undergo sensitivity training for using the k-word during a conversation that was recorded in his home.

Agrizzi appeared briefly in the equality court sitting in the Randburg magistrate's court on Wednesday where the SA Human Rights Commission laid a complaint of hate speech and discrimination against him.

This comes after Agrizzi’s testimony at the state capture commission of inquiry in which he admitted to using racial slurs.In the audio clip played at the inquiry, Agrizzi is heard using the k-word several times while laughing with those he was in conversation with.

The matter was postponed until June 27 to allow Agrizzi and the SAHRC to discuss the possibility of a settlement. During proceedings, advocate Daniel Witz told the court that they were yet to establish who recorded and disseminated the conversation of Agrizzi in which he used the k-word.

“Nobody knows from our side who disseminated and published it [the recording] and why it was done. It’s just a select portion of the recording,” he said. SAHRC provincial manager Buang Jones said they were hopeful that both parties would reach a monetary settlement.

“In our papers we have demanded for R200,000 and we are hopeful we’ll be able to come up with a creative way to deal with the matter,” he said. “We’ve asked the court to direct Mr Agrizzi to undergo a sensitivity programme and to issue an unconditional apology to all South Africans,” Jones said.

Jones said the Chapter 9 institution had two black witnesses who were willing to testify if the matter cannot be resolved outside of court. “We have received support from Bosasa. Two former black executives are willing to testify in support of this application to declare the utterances of Mr Agrizzi as hate speech and as constituting unfair discrimination,” he said.

Agrizzi told the media after his appearance that he has already apologised to the country for uttering the k-word and that he has shown remorse.

“At this point I would like to allow the law to take its course,” Agrizzi said.

His instructing attorney, Daniel Witz told the media that his client has already apologised and that they would be engaging the SAHRC on a way forward. “When this matter was brought up during the Zondo commission, Mr Agrizzi showed remorse and apologised profusely to South Africa. In terms of this matter today, any apology will be discussed during settlement, alternatively in court,” Witz said.

The complaint stems from a secret audio recording made during a meeting at Agrizzi's Fourways, Joburg home with Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson's children and nephew, in which he can be heard repeatedly referring to black directors at Bosasa as k*****s.

The clip, which was played at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, has been widely circulated on social media. At the time, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo told the commission that the recording was "extremely offensive".

In January this year, the SAHRC announced that it would pursue criminal charges against Agrizzi under section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, which prohibits unfair discrimination by both the government and private organisations and individuals, and forbids hate speech and harassment. 

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