Police at the accident scene on the R21 near ORT International Airport where Bosasa executive Gavin Watson was killed. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA).

PRETORIA - The ANC on Monday said it had "received with shock" news of the death of Gavin Watson, who died in a car accident at the OR Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park earlier in the day.

"Comrade Gavin Watson together with his brothers, Ronnie, Cheeky and Valence associated themselves with the struggle for liberation at an early age and fought side by side with many compatriots against apartheid. 

"It was in his home province of the Eastern Cape, where Cde Gavin Watson made the admirable and brave choice of disassociating himself with the privilege that came with being a white male in apartheid South Africa and choosing to participate actively in pursuing the ideals of a free, democratic and non-racial South Africa," said ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe.

"The Watson brothers were well-known activists in the United Democratic Front (UDF) and within the African National Congress underground structures at the time. To a large extent, their role in the fight for non-racial sports, especially rugby, resulted in one of the most symbolic acts of opposition and discontent against discrimination in sport."

Mabe said Gavin Watson in particular also played a significant role in providing support, through the family businesses, to many activists and operatives of the uMkhonto weSizwe armed wing of the ANC, who were being pursued by the police and fleeing Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape province during the apartheid era. 

"He extended this role by mobilising other white business persons to support and join the effort of creating a democratic and free South Africa for all. In the democratic era, Cde Gavin continued his activism and was unwavering in his support for the ANC," said Mabe.

"His charity work in support for youth and communities in distress in the West Rand was admirable and his death has surely robbed those communities of a philanthropist who gave hope and inspired many young people within those communities through skills training and development."

Mabe said the ANC extended its "heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and comrades of Cde Gavin Watson". 

Watson's death sent social media users across South Africa into a frenzy, with thousands of Twitter users on Monday asking questions about the car crash that killed him, and the numerous allegations of fraud and corruption levelled against the chief executive of Bosasa. 

Watson, 71, died as the Toyota he was driving, apparently at high speed, slammed into a concrete pillar at OR Tambo International Airport early on Monday morning.

His flashy BMW SUV was parked in the basement of the Krugersdorp offices of African Global Operations, the new name of Bosasa, which came under intense scrutiny at the Zondo commission.

The company was accused of being involved in several acts of fraud and corruption worth billions of rands, linked to state contracts. Watson was said to be complicit in bribery of state officials, however the alleged crimes are yet to be tested in court. 

African News Agency (ANA)