Former chief operations officer of Bosasa Angelo Agrizzi at the state capture inquiry in Parktown. Picture: Dimpho Maja/ African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The department of correctional services irregularly extended contracts worth billions of rand awarded to Bosasa Operations and its front companies, former Bosasa chief operations officer-turned-whistleblower, Angelo Agrizzi, said on Wednesday.

Agrizzi confirmed all the findings of the 2009 Special Investigative Unit (SIU) as Advocate Paul Pretorius led him through it. The SIU had conducted a probe into the corrupt relationship between Bosasa and the department of correctional services.  

Bosasa's group of front companies, including Phezulu Fencing and Sondolo IT, were awarded contracts worth billions of rand to provide kitchens catering service, security and access control, CCTV, and fencing in prisons from as early as 2002. 

The SIU report found that on the R486 million tender for fencing and CCTV at various prisons, competitive bidders were not allowed to conduct site visits in prisons. However, Bosasa had free access to the sites through its kitchens catering tender before the fencing tender was even advertised in 2004. 

The SIU also found that validity time period for bids was only 21 days which made it difficult for other bidders to submit.

Agrizzi said Sondolo IT had an unfair advantage in the access control tender. On March 3, 2006, Sondolo IT was awarded a once-off service delivery agreement worth R224 million for the CCTV system. 

He said Sondolo IT received the tender even though it was only established a week before the tender submission date.

Agrizzi said on January 6, 2009, the department of correctional services awarded Bosasa a new three-year catering contract titled HK 14/2008. He said all the documents used in the tender process in respect of the prior catering contract were again used for the second catering contract to be awarded to Bosasa.  

Agrizzi said that Bosasa also enjoyed multi-million rand payments for "variations" in its tenders with the department as a result of irregularly extending the duration of contracts. 

These, Agrizzi said, were agreed to by Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson and the former chief financial officer of the department, Patrick Gillingham.

Agrizzi said Watson agreed with Gillingham to extend the kitchens catering contract to include seven satellite prisons without following tender processes as the contract was due to expire July 31, 2007. At one point, the variations would amount to something in the region of R90 million to R100 million, Agrizzi said. 

"I was vehemently opposed to the R100 million variations. I told them to stop putting in variation orders. It was just growing and growing, it was going to attract attention. It got out of hand, actually," Agrizzi said. 

Earlier, Agrizzi confirmed that the department of correctional services gave Bosasa millions of rands worth of contracts in what was being termed "fiscal dumping".

Fiscal dumping by the department was first raised in a report by the SIU which stated that this was the department's way of getting rid of money left at the end of the financial year by hurriedly spending funds before the end of a financial year even if it received no value for it in return.

African News Agency (ANA)