Gavin Watson is not a director of any of the companies involved in the Inyanda-Roodeplaat project, and Ronnie, Valence and Jared Watson are not directors of Bosasa. However, the last three all featured in testimony about Bosasa both by Agrizzi and his one-time colleague, former chief financial officer Andries van Tonder.
Van Tonder referred to the 2007 investigation by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) into four tenders awarded to Bosasa by the department of correctional services, worth more than R1.5bn.
“When the SIU investigation commenced, a meeting was held with Ronnie Watson, Valence Watson, Gavin Watson, Angelo Agrizzi, where we were told that a ‘pact’ was formed and no one must break the ‘pact’ or testify against one another. We were told that the Watsons had it all under control and had access to both the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority,” his statement reads.
Van Tonder also testified that after Agrizzi released a media statement in August last year about his intention to blow the whistle on Bosasa and Gavin Watson, he had received a phone call from Valence Watson asking him to help change Agrizzi’s mind.
“The calls from Valence Watson continued over time …
“On the request from Watsons, we held meetings at Angelo Agrizzi’s house which were attended by Angelo Agrizzi, myself, Brian Biebuyck, Ronnie Watson, Valence Watson, Jared Watson … Jared Watson begged me on numerous occasions to meet him.”
Biebuyck was the Watson family lawyer.
Agrizzi also testified that on August 23 last year, Ronnie Watson, Valence Watson, Jared Watson and Biebuyck had arrived at his home.
“And basically they said that they had confronted Gavin Watson who … denied absolutely everything. But they said that they were mandated by Gavin Watson to make an offer to me to market their property called Royalston Estate. It is a wildlife residential resort in Port Elizabeth that they wanted me … to get involved with. Quite simply they said… I must start a business and they would fund it. I refused it point blank.”
The commission heard that a draft legal agreement to secure Agrizzi’s silence was drawn up that was to be kept “strictly confidential”. It included provision for an “oversight committee” whose members were Valence Watson, Ronnie Watson and Biebuyck.
Agrizzi told the commission about expensive gifts presented by Bosasa to a business partner of Valence Watson, Siviwe Mapisa, the one-time head of security at the SA Post Office where Bosasa had also secured a tender, and who is also the brother of former Correctional Services minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Agrizzi told the commission that Mapisa would go hunting on Ronnie Watson’s game farm in the Eastern Cape “and we (Bosasa) would transport the meat”.
None of the Watsons has yet responded publicly to any of this evidence.
No conflict of interest, says minister’s office
Gavin Watson is not a director of the wind farm project, but there is an argument to be made that Mokonyane has been placed in a difficult and compromised position by the damning (though as yet unanswered) testimony at the Zondo commission, concerning both her alleged personal benefit from Bosasa and the Watsons’ close family ties that drew all four brothers into the Bosasa drama. (The youngest of the four, Daniel “Cheeky” Watson, was also named during Agrizzi’s testimony.) This argument holds that the minister should not adjudicate the Inyanda-Roodeplaat appeals, at least until – and if – she’s able to clear her name.
Mokonyane has indicated through her spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase that she will not withdraw from the adjudication process.