JOHANNESBURG - Former Bosasa chief operations officer, Angelo Agrizzi, told the Zondo Commission on Monday that Bosasa manipulated tender processes at the Department of Correctional Services to suit its needs and that the company would sometimes be awarded contracts without following due process.
Agrizzi said the root of tender manipulation at the department went back to 2004 when Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson roped in the department's chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham, and bribed him to give Bosasa, now trading as African Global Operations, a lucrative catering tender in prisons.
Agrizzi said Bosasa executives and Gillingham embarked on correctional facility tours paid for by Bosasa and he, Agrizzi, was asked to compile a report for the purpose of compiling a full evaluation of the state of the catering at the correctional facilities and what role Bosasa could play as a consultant.
However, as it turned out, Agrizzi's report became the "blueprint" to the tender specifications issued in the tender bid, and Bosasa ended up winning the tender valued at R230 million per year.
Agrizzi explained how the costings in the bid document were manipulated to reflect fewer special meals for diabetic inmates, which cost double the price of standard meals. This would make the bid in lower while Bosasa would bill higher once the tender was awarded.
"I pointed out to Gavin Watson that large portions of the analysis report I had submitted as well as its conclusions appeared to have been used as the specifications' document, which formed part of the invitation to bid for the catering tender," Agrizzi said.
"His response to me was that he had it under control and he told me that we were going to be awarded the tender and that I must just do the paper work."
Agrizzi said that he received a substantial salary increase for his troubles, doubling his monthly salary from just over R200 000 to R406 000.
Gillingham was apparently paid a R110 000 bribe every month.
At some point in 2013, Agrizzi said that the department was about to issue a tender for access control systems, and Watson instructed him to draft the tender specifications and include features that Bosasa and its IT subsidiary, Sondolo, would would be able to fulfil.
In fact, Agrizzi said, Sondolo IT was created specifically for this tender as Bosasa was initially going to bid for it, but it was Watson's last-minute thought to change the name of the bid company on the documents to exclude suspicion.
"They had captured the department and inevitably there would be additional costs because they had nobody to run the system," Agrizzi said.
Earlier, Agrizzi testified that Bosasa paid a group of Members of Parliament (MPs) monthly bribes in order for them to manage the negative media scrutiny over the company's tenders it had with the department.
Agrizzi said Watson was paying monthly bribes to the members of the portfolio committee on correctional services, who conduct oversight, including then chairperson Vincent Smith, to look the other way when questions were raised about Bosasa's government contracts.
African News Agency (ANA)