Mantashe, Mokonyane scored big in Bosasa bonanza

Facility management company Bosasa treated a long list of high-profile ministers and government functionaries to high-tech security systems for their homes.

The company, now known as African Global Operations, has, since at least 2013, installed high-end CCTV cameras, alarm systems and electric fencing for ministers Gwede Mantashe and Nomvula Mokonyane, and deputy minister Thabang Makwetla.

Also on the receiving end of Bosasa’s largesse were former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni, former prisons boss Linda Mti, and one-time procurement manager for the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, Mbulelo Gingcana. Top ANC MP Vincent Smith rounds off the list, as News24 reported this week.

These claims are contained in an affidavit deposed to by a former Bosasa employee in November last year.

While Mantashe and Mokonyane would neither confirm nor deny that Bosasa came to their homes to install the security systems, Makwetla, the deputy minister of justice and correctional services, confirmed that Bosasa had installed an electric fence, cameras and an alarm at his home.

However, he said he “pleaded with [Bosasa chief executive Gavin] Watson, not once, not twice, not thrice, but continuously ever since” to charge for it, but Watson “flatly refused to send me the bill for the job”.

“This has been a source of serious frustration to the deputy minister,” Makwetla said yesterday.

Myeni responded to detailed questions with a terse “no comment”.

An affidavit details how various Bosasa directors had instructed him to install the systems, and even clean up gardens and fix pool pumps at the homes. The affidavit confirmed installations at the home of Smith this week.

Smith also received R670 000 in cash from Bosasa, which he said were loans from former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi.

Agrizzi, however, denied any loan agreement, saying Watson ordered that Bosasa pay the money.

According to the affidavit, the security installations were branded “Special Projects” and were undertaken with Watson’s knowledge and approval.

Several Bosasa directors instructed him to install the equipment, including Papa Leshabane, Syvion Dlamini, Trevor Mathenjwa, Agrizzi and Watson, the whistle-blower claims.

“In 2013, Gavin Watson asked that I attend to the premises of [then Gauteng premier, now communications minister] Nomvula Mokonyane, while Angelo Agrizzi and Gavin Watson were at the premises,” the man alleges.

“I was instructed by Gavin Watson to sort out the electric fence, the generator, the CCTV systems, gate motor and other incidentals such as the pool, the distribution of electricity and lighting on the premises.”

The affidavit lists other systems that the ministers and top officials allegedly received, including:

• CCTV and recording systems, and perimeter lighting for mineral resources minister Mantashe’s house in Boksburg and homes in Cala and Elliot in the Eastern Cape, valued at R300 000;

• An electric fence, alarm system, CCTV system and computer server worth R350 000 for Makwetla’s home;

• A R150 000 alarm and CCTV system for Gingcana’s Randburg home;

• Electric fencing, CCTV and an alarm system worth R250 000 for Myeni’s Richards Bay home;

• R350 000 worth of work – including 4km of electric fencing and perimeter lighting, and alarm system repairs – to two of Mti’s properties, in Colchester and Greenbushes outside Port Elizabeth; and

• Electric fencing and a CCTV system worth R200 000 at Smith’s Roodepoort home.

“All the systems were paid for by the Bosasa Group,” the affidavit reads.

“Accounts would be opened as cash accounts and I would receive the cash from Jacques van Zyl and Angelo Agrizzi as the company did not want to reflect it on the books.”

Funny SMSes

News24 has also obtained copies of text messages apparently sent to the former Bosasa employee, supporting his claim that he was also tasked with maintaining the security systems.

On July 17 2017, Makwetla sent a text saying: “I thought I should report that the camera system went off again by Friday. On the screen it says: Please check the TX input signal. Thanks. Thabang.”

On June 1 2017, Mokonyane’s personal assistant Sandy Thomas wrote: “There is a problem at the house with the alarm system. For some reason, it keeps ringing, so it now has to be switched off at the switch. Please let me know what to do.”

On April 16 2017, Gingcana texted: “I have a challenge here. I’m locked in without a key to disable the gate to manual. There is no power for the area since 3am. Do you have anyone on standby to assist with the key?”

On March 28 2017, Smith texted: “Spoke to Gavin [Watson] on Sunday and this morning about moving camera. He has no problem. Regards.”

On January 7 2017 Mti wrote: “When in PE [Port Elizabeth] next, please check Colchester alarm continue [sic] to make noise when switching off, and Greenbushes switcher got lost and we can’t activate. Can bring spare one.”

The affidavit also details how, during the installation at Myeni’s home in 2014, a robbery took place. At the time, the Zululand Observer reported that R400 000 in cash was taken from her home, for which the culprits were arrested and sentenced. But the employee states he had to lie to police so as not to reveal that he was a private contractor.

Fightback

The employee is fighting his dismissal from Bosasa, saying he was disciplined and fired for storing “consumables”, such as wiring and cable trunking left over from the politicians’ and officials’ installations, at his home on the property of Bosasa’s Krugersdorp head office.

He said he was forced to keep them there to avoid questions about what they were used for.

Bosasa has won government contracts worth more than R10bn over the next five to 10 years from various departments, including the departments of justice, correctional services, home affairs, social development and the Airports Company SA.

In 2009, a Special Investigating Unit report found the company bribed former correctional services commissioner Mti and the department’s chief financial officer, Patrick Gillingham, to secure lucrative tenders, including massive fencing and catering contracts for prisons worth more than R1 billion.

The report was one of nearly 700 handed to the National Prosecuting Authority since 2007 for prosecution, but no action has been taken.

The former employee also alleges that Watson wanted him to sign a statement saying that Agrizzi instructed him to conduct the “Special Projects”.

He said he signed it but later revoked it, claiming he was uncomfortable about lying.

He then deposed the affidavit in November last year to fight his dismissal.

A Bosasa insider told News24 that the installations were done as favours, saying “favours keep people happy with Bosasa deals ... and, most importantly, control any prosecution”.

The insider also provided details of “Operasie Skoonmaak”, apparently undertaken by Bosasa in January, which involved removing the CCTV systems the company installed to cover its trail.

News24 this week published footage captured by the system at Smith’s home that shows three men, believed to be Bosasa employees, removing the cameras.

What they say

In a detailed response, Makwetla’s office confirmed that he knew Watson “from the struggle days”, and shortly after his appointment, visited Bosasa’s operations centre as part of his work.

After New Year in 2015, Makwetla’s house was broken into and he needed a security upgrade, but all the companies were closed.

Around that time, Watson called, asking for an urgent meeting about “how the department was treating his company”, and Makwetla told him about the burglary.

Watson offered to help and Makwetla “asked him to send a quote first”. But, to Makwetla’s “discomfort”, Watson’s team began installing security systems without “forwarding any quote” and he declined to “charge the deputy minister as a comrade”.

“Makwetla immediately disagreed with him for the obvious reason that perceptions of conflict of interest would be difficult to dispel because his company was doing business with [the department].

“In the intervening period, the camera system which was installed had to be removed because it had glitches from day one.”

Makwetla said he was “not guilty of any wrongdoing” and undertook to approach the office of the Public Protector to investigate all tenders issued to Bosasa and other large companies during his term.

Texts and emails seeking comment from Gingcana and Mti went unanswered. Mti could not be reached for comment.

Leshabane, Bosasa’s executive director, said: “We are aware of a media and political conspiracy, and have been advised to communicate no further with the media until we have finalised our investigation into this conspiracy.”

Smith denied that Bosasa installed any systems at his home, saying it merely conducted an assessment and provided advice on possible upgrades.

Mokonyane’s spokesperson, Mlimandlela Ndamase, would neither confirm nor deny that Bosasa installed the systems at her home, questioning instead the provenance of the affidavit.

“The minister has been a public representative since 1994 ... which positions entitled her to security upgrades at her house,” Ndamase said, adding that Mokonyane would respond “to the forum for whom the affidavit was made”.

Mantashe would neither confirm nor deny that Bosasa paid for his security system, saying: “It is not a valid question.”

He questioned why Bosasa would do him such a favour. “For what? If they were contracted by people who dealt with our security, what then? I can assure you I am not living for favours.”

The details of the alleged installations are included in a new docket presented to the Hawks by forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan, who laid a charge against Watson and Smith over revelations that the MP received cash from Bosasa, reported by News24 last week.

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