Nomvula Mokonyane speaking at Bosasa boss Gavin Watson's memorial service at Little Falls Christian church in Roodepoort. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi / Africa News Agency.

Johannesburg - Former Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane defended controversial Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson at his memorial service held in Roodepoort on Friday. 

Dressed in mourning attire following the death of her husband Surge Mokonyane earlier this year, Mokonyane slammed sections of the media, business and even factions in the ANC as she defended Watson - who she said was persecuted. 

He died earlier this week in an early morning car crash just outside the OR Tambo International Airport. 

Mokonyane described Watson as a friend, and said the Watson family was part of her family. 

She said Watson, who made billions through the Bosasa group of companies, was not a capitalist, but was in fact, a freedom fighter.

“Capital has no friend, capital is evil, Gavin was not a capitalist, Gavin was a freedom fighter, Gavin loved life. What he was doing together with (Angelo) Agrizzi, only his creator will deal with it, we do not want to judge,” she said.

Mokonyane lauded Watson for his philanthropic efforts for the young and elderly in the communities, slamming other corporates for failing to do the same. 

Mokonyane said there were multinational companies who operated in communities, but who did nothing for locals, unlike Watson, who gave back, she said. 

She pointed to Watson's philanthropic efforts in areas such as Kagiso, where he had programmes with the elderly and the youth. 

"These are white people, a family, who believed that contextualising theology is important. You can’t talk about the kingdom of God without talking about the injustices on earth. Under the stewardship of their own father, and now the third generation listening to nephews and nieces, you just think this thing of the Watsons runs in the genes, it runs in the family and it is all because of the foundation of loving thy neighbour," said Mokonyane. 

“This is a family that never shied away from a Nomvula, this is a family that never shied away from a Winnie Mandela who said with our 3c match boxes, we will liberate this country,” she said. 

In a stunning 25-minute speech, Mokonyane said the Watson family had never been afraid to associate with the ANC through the Struggle, post-liberation and how recently, some leaders within the party were now afraid to associate with the family that had sent their kids and some of them to school. 

"May the angels welcome you Gavin. May your parents celebrate your coming and ascension to heaven. Forgive them Gavin, goodnight. Set your alarm clocks so you can wake up and be among us, and remember, love them all, trust no one,” she said. 

Watson was fingered by former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi for allegedly paying bribes and inducements to high ranking officials in the ANC, including, to Mokonyane and her relatives. 

“So if you ask me why did I frequent the Bosasa offices, it was because Bosasa was friendly to the ANC - very accessible and they had no shame associating with the ANC, until now when some of us are running away from associating with our old dear friends."

The Sunday Independent