Johannesburg - Angelo Agrizzi has revealed to the Zondo Commission the names of three journalists that were allegedly on the payroll of facilities management company Bosasa.
On his eighth day of testimony on Monday, Agrizzi said he knew of payments to journalists which were facilitated in order to control the negative media reports that Bosasa was facing at the time.
He said as far as he could remember those payments were made from 2012 and he is unsure if it continued after he left Bosasa. Agrizzi said he handed over R71 000 to Bosasa employee Papa Leshabane, who was tasked with issuing bribes to various officials on behalf of Bosasa.
According to him, of the R71 000 about R30 000 was to be used to pay journalists for positive stories on Bosasa and foiling attempts at writing negative stories about the company. Agrizzi said he was not present when the payments were allegedly made to the journalists and he relies on information provided by Leshabane.
"At the time Bosasa was going through a rough patch regarding negative reporting from certain journalists. He said he could arrange some friends who could sway the reports on Bosasa and would also write positive stories on Bosasa," said Agrizzi.
'I asked him for the names and he only provided me with two or three people."
He said the journalists who were allegedly paid were Pinky Khoabane, who previously worked for now-defunct Gupta-owned New Age newspaper. The other two were a "Bongs" from Eastern Cape and a "Nthuli" from The Star. He was unable to provide the full names for the two other individuals.
Agrizzi recorded the intended payments in a little black book, which he used to keep track of bribe payments.
The commission also heard how Bosasa paid public relations consultants to help protect Bosasa's public image. Agrizzi said the consultants were Benedict Dube and Stephen Laufer. He said over R1 million was spent on consultants.
The consultants were also tasked with threatening journalists with the use of burner phones. Agrizzi confirmed that he knew News24 editor Adriaan Basson was one of the journalists that were threatened for his reporting on Bosasa.
The commission is also conducting its own investigation into the allegations of Bosasa bribing journalists.
Khoabane, one of the journalists said to have been paid a bribe, stated on her Twitter profile that she has never met Agrizzi and plans to appear before the commission to state her side of the allegations.
I have never met Angelo Agrizzi. I simply reported on his racist rants and his links. I will make a submission to @StateCaptureCom— Pinky Khoabane (@pinkykhoabane) January 28, 2019
The inquiry continues.IOL