Former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA).

Johannesburg - The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) on Wednesday dismissed allegations that one of its officials had been involved in taking kickbacks from Bosasa Operations in order to oil the wheels for the group's companies to be awarded lucrative contracts in the department of correctional services (DCS).

This comes after former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry on Wednesday that a former Popcru general secretary identified only as "Sbu", together with high-ranking officials from the department, were paid a R1 million bribe every month from 2007. 

Their duty, according to Agrizzi, was to pressurise the then newly-appointed national commissioner, Vernie Petersen, to be obedient and cooperative to Bosasa demands. But Agrizzi said the amount was reduced to R700 000 after Bosasa lost the contract. 
In a statement, Popcru said it does not recall any official by the name of Sbu, but said it wanted to get more details about the alleged union official who received kickbacks.

"We do not take these allegations lightly but want to categorically state that since its inception, there has never been any Popcru office-bearer by the name Sbu, nor Sibusiso or any other similar name. We are equally interested in getting clearer details around this person whom it is claimed represented Popcru as its general secretary," it said.

"If anything, these are fabricated falsehoods since at the said time it was widely known that Popcru was a critic of the direction the department was taking. To set the record straight, it was Popcru who at the time this meeting is purported to have taken place exposed the relationship between Bosasa, Phezulu Fencing and Sondolo IT. They all had a similar address."

Bosasa's front companies, Sondolo IT and Phezulu Fencing, had respectively won a R200 million TV plan tender from the department of correctional services and a R486 million contract to fence 66 prisons across the country. 

Agrizzi also detailed how Bosasa allegedly paid a R65 000 monthly kickback, which was later raised to R100 000 a month, to former national commissioner of correctional services, Linda Mti, in order to facilitate tenders for Bosasa in the prison system.
Also implicated by Agrizzi was the department's former chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham, who was also allegedly on a Bosasa payroll and had luxury German cars purchased for him and his daughter around 2006 or 2007 by Bosasa. 

Popcru said that all those implicated should be brought to book, adding that in its last central executive congress in November last year, it made a plea to President Cyril Ramaphosa to speedily look into Bosasa and Sondolo IT since they had been making government a cash cow for the longest term.

"We distance our union and its officials from such allegations and will not be defocused from continuing to expose the malpractices that have over the years entrenched themselves within the DCS because we maintain that it has drastically deviated from its core mandate," it said.

African News Agency (ANA)