After a nine-day marathon on the witness stand, former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi finally vacated the booth in the State Capture investigation on Tuesday afternoon – publicly unmasked and ashamed as a racist.
Angelo Agrizzi's testimony before Supreme Court Vice President Raymond Zondo was filled with personal traits, colorful anecdotes and details that sought to portray the image of a deeply conflicted man trapped in the corrupt clutches of Bosasa Inc.
Snippets on his fountain pen, an old Great Dane, the mirrors at his mansion Fourways, a South African Italian genuinely concerned about preparing a meal for impromptu visitors provided some affectionate moments during his protracted period on the witness stand in State Capture . investigation.
Complicit he was admitting to have fed the animal corruption over almost two decades since it provided an income to finance his millionaire lifestyle, Ferraris and trips to Italy.
He personally packed many of the stacks of cash into bags for his fellow directors and senior officials to talk to dirty public officials and politicians; but he grew in consciousness three years ago when he began collecting a personal stock of evidence – small black books, company records, secret tapes and a number of crime partners – to expose Bosasa, chiefly his CEO, Gavin Watson, and others.
For eight days, Agrizzi provided shocking testimony about the extent of Bosasa's corrupt tentacles, which supposedly allowed him to conquer and retain billions of dollars in government deals.
The investigation, which is investigating allegations of fraud and corruption in the public sector, has so far focused mainly on the Gupta family.
Agrizzi confirmed that the Guptas were not alone and named the number one culprit in State Capture, former President Jacob Zuma, among dozens of alleged beneficiaries of the Bosasa scheme.
Agrizzi was spreading dust like no healer had done since the Commission began last August.
But by about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29, his confidence seemed to decrease in that bank of witnesses.
The guy who chattered with names, codes and payments in detail for days on end seemed shocked, puzzled, worried.
That was when senior lawyer Paul Pretorius, head of the State Capture Commission's legal team, announced that a brief recording of a conversation Agrizzi had with members of the Watson family in his TV room last year should be played.
South Africa was about to hear another nasty truth about Agrizzi, and like his testimony of his own complicity in the corruption scandal, it would also come straight from the horse's mouth.
The clip, apparently leaked through its former partners Bosasa, was short, painful and confirmed that in addition to being a facilitator of corruption, Agrizzi was also a racist.
A diabetic, he blamed the pressure, a piece of carrot cake and the three or four gins he had knocked over before members of the Watson family came in for allegedly negotiating a multimillion-dollar prize to keep him quiet.
Late on Tuesday, the moment the leaked recording was played and shown on live television, South Africa discovered the true Angelo Agrizzi.
The chief witness of State Capture has never completely returned to his former self.
"In my heart, I knew they had come to help me.
But being the great Kahuna that he was in Bosasa, Agrizzi mistakenly believed that he could manage them.
He was cheated and a clip of the conversation in which he referred to his former colleagues by word-k – repeatedly – was leaked to the media a few days after he allegedly told the Watsons and their cohorts that there would be no agreement to silence him.
In attempting to stop or manage the way the recording would be played, Agrizzi protested that there was "context," a broader conversation that had led to his moment of shame.
"I'm not trying to find excuses. I'm embarrassed, ashamed. I'm not sleeping, I'm on my side. Judge me on this. Play it, "he finally said.
The clip, for someone who hears it for the first time, is loaded with the painful and harsh reality of racism.
"They steal, loot, they rape, they destroy, "the man who came to testify about large-scale lootings from Bosasa was heard saying.
There was no redemption, nothing to soften the blow. Pretorius did not hide the Commission's opinion about the recording.
"This is totally racist, grossly offensive and difficult to describe in words the effects of what is said, for the individuals (mentioned) and for the country as a whole. "
"Sorry, "Agrizzi said.
Pretorius continued by stating that Agrizzi's comments, "exhibiting racism in an extreme form," could be seen as part of the motivation of the former chief of Bosasa, who became a proponent of evidence in the investigation.
"My answer to this is to work with the facts. I made a mistake. I embarrassed my family. I'm paying the price for it.
He then made this disconcerting statement: "I do not see how anyone can say that I am being racist (when witnessing) when I present facts that Watson is corrupt. He is not black.
The Zondo Commission has issued notices to a long list of parties implicated by Agrizzi's testimony. Some will be sending their own version of events or will be applied to interrogate you.
As frank and detailed as it may be, Agrizzi's testimony is, until now, one-sided and will have to be tested by the Commission.
But as much as the leaked recording unmasked Agrizzi as a racist, it would be foolhardy to disregard his testimony, marked by an extraordinary number of explosive claims.
It involved Zuma, Cabinet Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and senior National Authority officials, including suspended national deputy director Nomgcobo Jiba and special director Lawrence Mrwebi, along with a list of civil servants allegedly paid by the controversial facility management company . over a period of more than ten years.
Agrizzi exposed how Bosasa allegedly blew up to $ 6 million a month in bribes – cash the company sometimes obtained through telephone billings from bookmakers and liquor stores.
He also revealed how Bosasa allegedly had former Correctional Services commissioners Linda Mti, Zach Modise and Khulekani Sithole, and that the company paid Correctional Services chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham up to R110,000 per month for his services.
On Monday, January 28, he testified about payments to media consultants and journalists and spoke about R300,000 in alleged payments to former SAA chairman Dudu Myeni. He also claimed that during a meeting at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria, Myeni handed him Watson's secret and confidential documents about the NPA's and Hawks' investigation into the company.
Agrizzi will now work with researchers to complete a supplemental submission for submission to the survey and offered to deliver all of their electronic devices for independent review.
He urged the Commission to keep in mind that the incriminating recording was first leaked after he rejected a payment from the Watsons to be quiet.
There were several offers, including a $ 50 million settlement to ensure that neither party did anything to "challenge" the dignity of another – this Agrizzi said it was just a formal and legal language to buy his silence.
"No legal agreement would say "you would not," he said.
Adv Pretorius said that the Commission had a duty to present the controversial recording, since Agrizzi's statements questioned whether his evidence for the investigation was motivated by racism.
Agrizzi pressed. "Just consider the facts."
A worthy Judge Zondo did not elaborate on his speech by simply stating, "What I have heard is extremely offensive, but that does not mean I will not examine your evidence to find out where you are speaking the truth. and where not.
Agrizzi told the Commission that he had committed the next six months of his life in the State Capture inquiry and then addressing himself directly to Judge Zondo, said: "Thank you for the way you treat me. I'm not worthy of that. DM
* Former Agrizzi Bosasa colleague Andries van Tonder, the man who secretly filmed Gavin Watson counting and packing money inside a Bosasa vault, took the witness bench and is scheduled to testify about his tenure at the controversial company on Wednesday, January 30th.
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