Former chief operations officer of Bosasa Angelo Agrizzi testifies at the state capture commission of inquiry hearing in Parktown, Gauteng on January 16. PHOTO: Itumeleng English / African News Agency (ANA) 16.01.2019

JOHANNESBURG - Former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi on Thursday said that his former employer was involved in a grand scheme of paying bribes to senior government officials in order to win tenders to the point that every contract was tainted with bribes. 

"Every single contract was tainted with bribes and corruption. I wouldn't say that they were all awarded because of corruption. But once they were awarded, corruption crept in because someone had to be taken care of," Agrizzi said.

Continuing with his testimony at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State capture, Agrizzi said money was paid to Patrick Gillingham, a correctional services department official who was involved in the awarding of contracts. 

He said that Bosasa had a number of vaults at its premises where it stored millions in hard cash which was used to pay bribes, and the location where cash would exchange hands was usually a petrol station near the Lanseria airport.

Agrizzi admitted that he was complicit in corrupt activities that allegedly took place at Bosasa, including the paying of bribes because he was also paid huge sums of money to buy his silence. But he said that at some point he became disillusioned with this arrangement because he did not agree with such business practices in the first place by Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson. 

Agrizzi said there were certain words like "stuff" that were synonymous with money at Bosasa, and Watson would easily say "here is your stuff" when he gave them money just to keep them happy.

"We were given money to buy out loyalty. It makes you feel important, but you're caught up in the cult. You knew all these criminal activities, and you are complicit. But it's a trap. You raised your standard of leaving because of this 'monopoly money', and by the time you start complaining about it, it has taken you away. If you pay people bribes every month you entrap them and you can control them for life," Agrizzi said.

"I once asked Mr Watson why he called the bribe money monopoly money. Mr Watson replied that they wanted the monopoly on business, they wanted to monopolise tenders, and it was playing money. You are playing with people. It was a frequent mention by Mr Watson in the company. It was nothing. Cash was nothing."

Earlier, Agrizzi showed the commission a video in which Watson counted almost R1 million in cash which was allegedly going to be used to pay a bribe to secure tenders. 

In the six-minute long video shown on Thursday, Watson is seen with his former business partner Johannes Gumede and executive director Papa Leshabane apparently counting cash inside a walk-in vault at Bosasa offices where Agrizzi said confidential documents were also stored. 

Bosasa has been implicated in corruption, doing favours for, and giving donations to influential politicians in return for government tenders at Sasol, ACSA, the Post Office, and the correctional services department. 

Evidence leader Advocate Paul Pretorius said those implicated in Agrizzi's testimony had been alerted and would have an opportunity to respond. 

The inquiry continues.

* Read more #StateCaptureInquiry stories here.

African News Agency (ANA)