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Agrizzi vindicates SIU’s Bosasa probe, raises more questions about NPA inaction

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Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi – an eyewitness, and participant to large-scale corruption at state entities – has delivered damning confirmatory testimony to a decade-old Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report into tender rigging at the prisons department.

During the sixth day of his marathon testimony before the state capture commission of inquiry on Wednesday, Agrizzi was taken through the SIU Bosasa report step by step.

In excruciating detail, the report sets out how four tenders with the correctional services department, awarded to Bosasa between 2004 and 2005, worth approximately R1.5bn, were the result of a corrupt and improper relationship between former prisons boss Linda Mti and the department’s former chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham.

Gillingham, it emerged, sold his soul for cars for himself and his children, a luxury home, cash payments, tuition fees, matric farewell dresses, season rugby tickets, a flat in a retirement village for his ageing father, trips to Europe and a custom-installed kitchen – all paid for by Bosasa.

Mti got a similar deal and according to Agrizzi, more than a decade after the tenders were awarded, the officials were still getting monthly cash payments for their efforts, despite both having left the department.

Details confirmed

Evidence leader for the commission, advocate Paul Pretorius, read large swathes of the SIU report and paused on occasion to ask Agrizzi to confirm if he had any personal knowledge of the events the unit recorded.

Agrizzi confirmed all but the most minor details of the report.

Worryingly, this confirmation from an eyewitness to some of the events that resulted in the SIU finding evidence of corruption, has placed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in a very poor light.

This same report was handed to the NPA in 2009 – the same year it was finalised – and to date, not a single person of interest in the matter has seen the inside of a courtroom.

Last week, the NPA confirmed that the Hawks had handed over its final docket and that prosecutors were studying the evidence and would make a decision on charges soon.

The prosecution team is led by deputy director of public prosecutions, Peter Serunye.

The reasons for the inordinate delay have yet to be determined conclusively. The NPA argued that it was hampered by a failure by the Hawks to ensure forensic reports were finalised.

The Hawks, in turn, blamed budget constraints, saying it had not paid two service providers who had been hired to compile the forensic reports.

Cash bribes

However, the reason for the delay may be far more sinister.

News24 reported on Sunday that senior prosecutors Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi, together with Jiba’s personal assistant Jackie Lepinka, were allegedly recipients of monthly cash bribes paid by Bosasa, via Mti and Lepinka, since 2011.

All three have categorically denied receiving cash payments from Bosasa in exchange for delaying matter.

Lepinka’s role is yet to be fully uncovered. She was Mti’s secretary before joining the NPA, where she served as Jiba’s assistant.

Agrizzi is yet to deliver evidence relating to how Bosasa delayed the NPA prosecution, but is expected to provide further details of how the company brought its considerable financial resources to bear in aid of staying out of jail.

The commission is expected to continue on Thursday when Agrizzi is expected to take the stand again.

[source: news24]
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