Net closes in on Bosasa suspects but 'not everybody is willing to talk'
Politics / 10 February 2019, 09:07am / Loyiso Sidimba
Johannesburg - The Hawks assured the country this week that more arrests would follow after the elite unit failed to arrest Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson despite prosecutors identifying him as key in the controversial company’s criminal enterprise.
Watson’s former subordinates - Angelo Agrizzi (chief operations officer), Andries van Tonder (chief financial officer), Carlos Bonifacio (chief accountant) and Frans Vorster (head of central business at the Lindela Repatriation Centre) - were arrested, appeared in court and granted R20000 bail each.
Draft charge sheets from as far back as 2013 show that Watson, who turns 71 in July, was number three of 27 accused persons, companies and trusts.
According to the August 2013 charge sheet, Watson was to be charged in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act for wrongfully and unlawfully managing the operations or activities of an enterprise and knowing or reasonably ought to have known that the enterprise conducted or participated in the conduct of its business, directly or indirectly, through a pattern of racketeering activity.
The racketeering charge carries a prison term of up to 10 years.
A memorandum prepared for special director of public prosecutions Lawrence Mrwebi in April 2013 states that the prosecution of former correctional services chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham, who was also arrested and granted R20 000 bail this week, would proceed in the second half of that year.
Lead prosecutor Advocate Marijke de Kock and her colleague AGJ van Rensburg wrote to Mrwebi, informing him that the prosecution of “various individuals within, namely Danny Mansell, Agrizzi, Bonifacio, Van Tonder, Vorster and others” will be possible within six months.
In September, News24 reported that ex-national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams removed De Kock as the lead prosecutor in the Bosasa matter in February 2016 due to the delays.
On Friday, De Kock declined to talk about the Bosasa matter, saying she was not authorised to do so.
Van Tonder has testified before the commission of inquiry that the controversial company’s former consultant Mansell emigrated with his family to the US in January 2013 and was “very much involved in unlawful practices at Bosasa”.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said this week that Agrizzi still needed to give the Hawks his statement as the one before the Zondo Commission cannot be used in criminal proceedings.
He said the Special Investigating Unit’s report on the fraud and corruption in tenders worth over R1.6billion was only used as a base.
“We start from scratch and corroborate the information, but we use it as a base,” Mulaudzi said. He added that the Hawks’ work was not easy as those implicated destroyed evidence and they have to dig deep.
“There is an element that people don’t take into cognisance - not everybody is willing to talk. And it makes life difficult for us, but that must not be an impediment,” he said.
The 2013 Bosasa charge sheet also shows that businessman Riaan Hoeksma, whose company Riekele Construction built and refurbished former prisons boss Linda Mti’s houses at Bosasa’s instruction, was accused number five, while Jurgen Smith, 78, was to be charged with racketeering for purchasing a Mercedes-Benz E270 CDI for Gillingham in October 2004.
Mti, who allegedly unduly benefited from the award of the lucrative tenders to Bosasa, handed himself to the police on Thursday, a day after Gillingham, Agrizzi, Van Tonder, Bonifacio and Vorster appeared in court.
He was also granted R20000 bail and will return to the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on March 27 with his co-accused.
Meanwhile, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor will complete her evidence at the Zondo Commission on Monday.