Ronnie the spy
In his book‚ Reflections of an ANC Cadre‚ former defence minister Charles Nqakula wrote of brother Ronnie’s work as an intelligence agent.
Nqakula had apparently been introduced to him through Chris Hani.
“[Ronnie] Watson had recently survived an assassination attempt in Gaborone when a certain Stephen Burnett entered his hotel room carrying a gun. Watson‚ who was built like a bodybuilder‚ disarmed him and gave the would-be assassin a bloody nose.
“Burnett was arrested and appeared in court in Gaborone‚ where he claimed to be a member of Britain’s Special Air Service. Giving evidence‚ Watson said Burnett told him he worked for the South African security services. He was sentenced to five years in jail‚” wrote Nqakula.
Though the actions of Cheeky‚ along with his siblings‚ were widely publicised for decades and centred on their links with the ANC and SACP and their activism‚ the publicity wasn’t all good.
In 1986‚ the Sunday Times reported that Valence‚ Ronnie and Cheeky were charged with arson‚ fraud and attempted murder‚ after being accused of hiring two men to set alight their family home.
This was supposedly to claim on a more than half-million-rand insurance policy‚ after their family business was liquidated.
The brothers denied the charges‚ saying the fire had been started by unidentified men who had tried to frame them.
In December that year‚ the youngest brother‚ Valence‚ was found guilty of fraud and arson‚ with his two brothers escaping conviction.
However‚ the following year the conviction and 30-month sentence were set aside in the Grahamstown Supreme Court.
The brothers claimed they were being targeted for their anti-apartheid stances‚ with Valence telling the Sunday Times in August 1987: “The psychological warfare and attempts on our lives will continue.”
Asked about the arson case‚ Gavin told writer Adam Hochsnight how police had asked him to help control the cheering crowd at court after his brothers’ acquittal.
“The captain of the police came to me‚ and asked me to please stop the crowd from breaking down the doors. The court doors . Asked me!” Gavin told the writer.
In 2003‚ Valence joined in the slating of Vanessa Brereton‚ a human rights lawyer who admitted to being an apartheid spy.
In 1990‚ she had been elected treasurer of the Port Elizabeth ANC branch‚ though she was acting as a government informant.
Outside the recent media coverage‚ Gavin has also been at the centre of numerous negative allegations over the years‚ particularly during his tenure at Bosasa.
As recently as last year‚ the company was insistent that there was no contract between itself and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s son‚ Andile‚ who allegedly received a contract for R500‚000 for financial consulting.
The DA has suggested there may have been special treatment in granting the contract‚ and applied for access to it.
Ramaphosa claimed he had learnt the money was paid‚ on behalf of Gavin‚ into a trust account used to fund Ramaphosa’s election campaign.
In 2010 reports emerged that Gavin was under investigation by the Hawks for allegedly bribing top prison officials in exchange for lucrative state tenders worth R1.7bn.