An explosive recording of a meeting between senior Bosasa executives reveals a discussion about former president Jacob Zuma’s involvement in their bid to muzzle a Hawks investigation of the company.
It also shows the lengths to which the company would go to stop its employees and whistleblowers speaking out.
The meeting, in November 2017, included Bosasa board chair Joe Gumede, the company’s youth development project manager Jackie Leyds and HR manager Johan Abrie.
Also at the meeting were three state capture commission whistleblowers, brothers Leon and Andries van Tonder, and Frans Vorster. The trio’s lawyer, Daniel Witz, confirmed to the Sunday Times that they had been made aware of the recording.
“We cannot comment on its contents until it has been brought before a commission of inquiry or a court of law,” he said.
Andries van Tonder and Bosasa whistleblower Angelo Agrizzi were this week arrested by Hawks officers in connection with a string of corruption allegations involving tenders worth R1.6bn with the department of correctional services. Former correctional services chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham and former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti were also arrested.
The Sunday Times understands the recorded meeting was called in an effort to convince the Van Tonders and Vorster not to blow the whistle on the company’s alleged corrupt practices.
Gumede can be heard telling the meeting that he had been approached by the Hawks, saying these approaches occurred regularly.
“The guys from the Hawks even showed us … every Monday they have a meeting to discuss all these things … that is confidential information … and in that meeting he showed us that the guys they wanted to charge were Angelo and Patrick [Gillingham] … None of you guys.”
Gumede is heard saying meetings with Hawks investigators were held every month.
“The only people they can charge is those two [Agrizzi and Gillingham] … [We] even had a meeting at the Sheraton [hotel] as a follow-up. It was clear. For them to close this matter the only people they need to charge are those two.”
Agrizzi testified last month that he and Watson met Zuma’s friend, former SAA chair Dudu Myeni, at a Sheraton Hotel, where she showed them the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) docket on the investigation of Bosasa. He said he could not recall the date of the meeting.
Gumede says: “The NPA and the Falcons [the Hawks] can kill this thing, but [former NPA advocate] Gerrie Nel can start up this investigation [through a private prosecution].”
Approached for comment, Bosasa executive director Papa Leshabane said he and his colleagues had taken “legal advice” not to engage with the media.
“We accordingly make no comment,” Leshabane said.
Abrie declined to comment or answer questions, and Gumede said Leshabane was speaking on behalf of the company.
Zuma’s spokesperson, Vukile Mathabela, said Zuma had a team of lawyers dealing with all issues related to Bosasa and the media, and undertook to forward the Sunday Times inquiry to them. No response was received.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said information on how investigations were conducted was confidential.
“The so-called muzzling is just wishful thinking. This is an attempt to rubbish the arrests and subsequent appearance of the six Bosasa accused,” Mulaudzi said.
He challenged those behind the “so-called recording” to come clean first and “name and shame those people that are conniving behind the Hawks back”.
Witz confirmed that Agrizzi would testify before the Mokgoro commission of inquiry into the fitness of two deputy directors of public prosecutions, advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi.
“As a result of the arrest he is confirming his rights in terms of the constitution in order to ensure that he has a fair trial. Once this is established he will arrange a date to give testimony,” he said.