Former Bosasa staff member Thembelani Buthelezi who met his late boss Gavin Watson during his random visits to Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp. Picture: Nkululeko Nene

Durban - As some mourned and others speculated about the death of African Global Operations (Bosasa) boss Gavin Watson this week, two of his former employees from KwaZulu-Natal painted him as a generous, deeply religious man.

Thembelani Buthelezi and Lungisani Malunga were cleaners at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp for Bosasa when they first met him.

They described him as jovial and spiritual.

“He cracked jokes with us, he never treated us with arrogance like other bosses often do. He jokingly told our supervisors to treat us with dignity and respect. We did not see much of him because he was always a busy man. But when he was around he randomly pulled out a wallet stashed with notes and gave us a R100 or R200 note each,” said Buthelezi. 

Malunga said workers at Bosasa started each shift with a prayer. “Our salary payslips had a Bible verse printed on them. We often thought this was the highest standard of Christianity. There has been no other company that I know which had displayed such levels,” he said.

Buthelezi said he was partly surprised when the company’s former COO Angelo Agrizzi alleged that Bosasa was corrupt during the Zondo Commission into State Capture.

“I always thought there was something dodgy with the company but could not tell what it was. But the treatment was not the same, those in management position were treated well. They had medical aid and a pension fund. We thought it was just a matter of time before we could also enjoy the same benefits because we served the same company,” Buthelezi said.

However, they said Agrizzi’s testimony destroyed their hope of a better life.  

Although Buthelezi and Malunga had started their careers at Bosasa in Krugersdorp they later requested to be transferred to Durban so that they could be closer to their families. They were sent to work at Westville Prison.

However, they were retrenched in April after Agrizzis’ testimony and said life was difficult without an income. Malunga complained that he was unable to contribute towards the funeral costs of his father who died last week.

A spokesperson for African Global Operations, Papa Leshabane on Friday said Watson’s funeral service which was held on Friday was well attended and well dignified.

He said the Watson family was distraught and battling to come to terms with his death. Leshabane described Watson as a man who never harboured ill-conceived ideas against people.

"He was meticulous, very professional in his day to day administration of the company. He was a very humble, generous kind man. He always flashed a smile on his face. He spent many years building his company. He looked after his staff very well," Leshabane said.'

Sunday Tribune