Sunday , March 7 2021

Gillingham to the bosses of Bosasa: Mercedes Benz, please!

"Gavin called me and said, 'Frans, Patrick needs a new car'".

"Gavin called me and said," Frans, you better get Patrick, he needs a car for his wife. "

"Gavin called me and said, 'Patrick needed a car for his son.'"

One of the top men in Bosasa, Frans Vorster, took up the state witness post on Tuesday and immediately plunged into the fund of Bosasa's generosity to the former chief financial officer of the correctional services, Patrick Gillingham.

Gillingham, it turned out, would take nothing but the best of German engineering – Mercedes Benz, along with some living money.

For two of his three children, however, the Volkswagen Polo would have to do and a VW Golf with all the extras was for his wife.

Gillingham's eldest son did not get a car from Bosasa, Vorster said.

The chairman of the commission, Supreme Court Vice President Raymond Zondo, noted at one stage that "husband, wife and children were driving cars bought by Bosasa."

At the center of it was Vorster, who testified that he would be called by Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson to fulfill all of Gillingham's requests.

Vorster revealed that Bosasa's relationship with Gillingham began well before the company made its first profitable offer of corrective services.

READ: Agrizzi's Bosasa's arm in bribes, the destruction of evidence and the war chests,

In fact, it was Gillingham who convinced the correctional services department that in 2004, outsourcing the buyer's contract would be the best practice and would save the bundles of money from the department.

Bosasa won the R300m bid under the supervision of then-National Commissioner Linda Mti, who also allegedly accepted bribes from the company in exchange for bids.

"He (Gillingham) was basically the driver of the case and then Mr. Mti would approve," Vorster said.

Gillingham's major role in the scheme that saw Bosasa collect more than $ 2 billion in corrective service bids is well documented in a report from the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) completed in 2009.

The SIU report describes it as having played an "integral role".

But as Bosasa reached out to Gillingham remained a mystery until Wednesday.

Vorster – whose late father also worked for Bosasa and had a relationship with Gillingham – was the key man who sold Gillingham with the idea of ​​working with the Krugersdorp company.

"Gavin Watson came to my Lindela office [Repatriation Centre] in 2003 and asked to speak to me alone. He told me, "Stay with Patrick again, as he would like to offer the contract for catering for correctional services," Vorster said.

At this stage, DCS administered kitchens in its facilities and prisons internally, and the idea of ​​outsourcing was not yet on the table.

Soon Vorster was called to the now infamous vault at Bosasa's headquarters, where he would receive money to be given to Gillingham.

Vorster then wrapped the money in an A4 envelope to look like documents.

"I would meet Patrick at a particular restaurant, especially in the Pretoria or Centurion area, and discuss specifications and menus about the correctional services' kitchens. I would hand over the envelope and retrieve the information," he explained.

The amounts ranged between R5,000, R10,000 and R20,000.

Vorster described the relationship between Watson and Mti as "good and forthcoming," which "led Gillingham to be appointed to the division of acquisitions" of correctional services by Mti.

Mti later would appoint Gillingham as chief financial officer.

Shortly after Bosasa staged the kitchen competition in 2004, Vorster said Watson instructed him to help Gillingham get a Mercedes Benz.

At that time, Gillingham drove an old-fashioned Mercedes Benz E240, which had a high number of miles on the clock and a broken left headlight. The concessionaire offered it an exchange value of R $ 8,000.

Bosasa bought Gillingham's car for $ 15,000, paid directly into his bank account and paid the deficit for a new Mercedes.

"We paid a lot more than it was worth," Vorster said.

The fate of old Mercedes Benz was not revealed.

The following year, Vorster was again called to look for a Volkswagen Golf for Gillingham's wife.

"Gavin called me and said," Frans, you better get Patrick, he needs a car for his wife. "

A year later, Gavin's call came back-this time Gillingham's son needed a car.

Bosasa also bought a VW Polo for his daughter, but Vorster said he was on leave when it was done.

Soon, Gillingham himself needed a new Mercedes Benz and Vorster once again made it happen.

READ: Hate speech: Human Rights Commission faces Agrizzi over k-word

Throughout the time, he testified, Bosasa would employ various tricks to hide the flow of money being paid to the various dealerships.

"This was done so that if anyone came to investigate, they would not be able to serve you. Internal auditors did not even identify you."

Over the years, Bosasa also acquired a VW Touareg V8 for Mti and built luxury homes for Mti and Gillingham.

Vorster said it was "open knowledge" that Bosasa was funding the construction of the houses in Midstream to Gillingham, and Savannah Hills to Mti, complete with custom kitchens and luxury furniture.

Today, according to Agrizzi, Gillingham drives a Mercedes GLA200, courtesy of a company of Watson's brother-in-law, Mark Taverner.

Vorster also witnessed how Watson instructed him to "hire a cabriolet" for the daughter of Nomvula Mokonyane, then Minister of Water Affairs, in December 2015.

When a cabriolet could not be purchased, Bosasa paid for the rental of an Audi A3.

During the investigation of the SIU, Vorster was also called to destroy evidence. He obtained the files relating to the purchase of VW Touareg from a dealer's Mti and burned the file.

"Who said all this has to be done? Whose idea was that?" Zondo asked at one point.

"This was a decision made by Gavin, Angelo and myself, the crew at this stage," Vorster said.

The commission must be restarted on Thursday.

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