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Agrizzi back in court over Bosasa graft

Bosasa’s former Chief Operations Officer (COO) Angelo Agrizzi and former African National Congress (ANC) MP Vincent Smith are expected back in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, 3 December 2020.

The pair face fraud and corruption charges in relation to hundreds of thousands of rands Agrizzi admitted to giving to Smith as bribes. Smith has however denied that the monies paid were backhanders, saying it was actually a loan he had requested, meant to go towards his daughter’s tuition. Smith is also alleged to have received security upgrades to his home, for which Bosasa footed the bill.

However it remains to be seen whether the matter will go as planned as Agrizzi’s ill-health has led to a number of postponements. He had suffered a heart attack after spending his first night in police custody, after the court had initially denied him bail, saying he was a flight risk. It was revealed in court that he and his common law wife had transferred approximately R24 million to offshore accounts. He also purchased property and a luxury car in Italy – coincidentally, Agrizzi claimed to have lost his Italian passport.

Smith handed himself over to the authorities at the Alberton Police Station in Johannesburg in the beginning of October and appeared in the same court just hours later. He pleaded not guilty and was released on R30 000 bail.

In November, Agrizzi’s R1.8 billion corruption case involving the Department of Correctional Services had to also be postponed, due to his health. His lawyer told media that Agrizzi was still in hospital recovering.

The accused in the matter are former National Department of Correctional Services Commissioner Linda Mti, former Chief Financial Officer Patrick Gillingham, BOSASA Operations (Pty) Ltd Ex-Chief Operations Officer Angelo Agrizzi and erstwhile Chief financial officer Andries van Tonder.

The group face charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, corruption, and money laundering.

“Charges in connection to four tenders awarded to Bosasa Operations PTY (Ltd) and its subsidiaries valued at over R1.8 billion between the periods August 2004 – 2007. Contracts for the rendering of catering and training services, installation of CCTV cameras, installing of perimeter fencing, supply of television systems and monitoring equipment,” said the Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Twala.

Agrizzi still recovering in hospital

The accused in the R1.8 billion corruption case involving the Department of Correctional Services returned to the Pretoria Specialised Commerical Crimes court on Thursday morning 26 November 2020. According to Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Twala, one of the accused, former Bosasa Chief Operations Officer (COO) Angelo Agrizzi, was not present in court as he is still in hospital.

Agrizzi’s lawyer Daniel Witz confirmed the postponement and said his client was still in hospital recovering. He could not, however, specify the current health condition of his client.

Roughly one month ago on 21 October, news broke that Agrizzi suffered a heart attack after several serious health complications. Witz said doctors had to resuscitate him and eventually managed to stabilise him.

Shortly before, Agrizzi was arrested for alleged corrupt dealings alongside African National Congress (ANC) MP Vincent Smith and spent one night in prison cells after he was denied bail based on the fact that he was at flight risk.

Following one night in prison, Agrizzi was rushed to hospital on account of breathing problems.

After a brief court appearance, Twala confirmed that the case had been postponed to 18 February 2020 to allow the defence time to study the docket.

The accused in the matter are former National Department of Correctional Services Commissioner Linda Mti, former Chief Financial Officer Patrick Gillingham, BOSASA Operations (Pty) Ltd Ex-Chief Operations Officer Angelo Agrizzi and erstwhile Chief financial officer Andries van Tonder.

The group face charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, corruption, and money laundering.

“Charges in connection to four tenders awarded to Bosasa Operations PTY (Ltd) and its subsidiaries valued at over R1.8 billion between the periods August 2004 – 2007. Contracts for the rendering of catering and training services, installation of CCTV cameras, installing of perimeter fencing, supply of television systems and monitoring equipment,” said Twala.

Former parliamentarian Vincent Smith and Agrizzi are to appear before the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on 3 December.

Smith stands accused of accepting gratifications in the form of security upgrades to his home and cash transferred into his personal bank account via the bank account of his company, Euroblitz Pty Ltd.

“Payment in exchange for the use of his political influence as a member of Parliament to shield BOSASA from accountability for corrupting officials in the Department of Correctional Services who awarded BOSASA contracts worth billions of Rands,” said Twala.

All the while Agrizzi stands accused of making payments to Smith, from himself, Gavin Watson and or BOSASA. Both have been charged with contravening section 7 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004 (PRECCA) and Smith alone is charged with fraud.

“Smith’s fraud charge emanates from his failure to disclose to the Registrar of parliamentary members’ interests the gratifications that he received from BOSASA, pursuant to the corrupt activities with which he, Euroblitz and the other accused are charged,” added Twala.

Agrizzi and Smith are both out on bail.

Agrizzi Suffers Heart Attack in Hospital

The former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi, suffered a heart attack in hospital on Wednesday, his lawyer said. “I can confirm that he had a heart attack.  The doctors managed to resuscitate and stabilise him but he’s obviously in a very serious condition,” Daniel Witz told Media on Thursday.  Debbie Agrizzi, Angelo Agrizzi’s partner, said that he is in a critical condition at a private hospital in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.  “He is currently in critical condition.  He has thus far been placed on three different form of life support.  We have been informed that he is currently on an internal ventilator.  He has also been placed on dialysis, as his kidneys are failing,” Debbie said.

Agrizzi was denied bail last Wednesday by the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court.  Agrizzi faces charges of corruption for allegedly making payments to form ANC MP Vincent Smith.  Agrizzi only spent one night in prison before he was transferred to hospital.  He was rushed to a private hospital on Monday after his condition worsened considerably.  At the time, Daniel Wtiz informed media that they had received a call from the correctional services department around noon.  “[They said] that the treating doctor at the public hospital advised them that he needs to be transported to a ICU/high care facility as a matter of urgency because is condition was worsening and they didn’t have the facilities to treat him.”

Agrizzi’s lawyers said are appealing the court’s decision to deny bail.  Bail was denied as Magistrate Philip Venter deemed Agrizzi a flight risk.  In his judgement, Venter said he was satisfied that Agrizzi had the financial means to set up and sustain a “comfortable lifestyle” elsewhere, should he decide to abscond.  Agrizzi allegedly withheld information about the value of his assets, and together with his partner Debbie, moved millions of rand offshore and into cryptocurrency accounts.

Gautrain Threatened by Numsa Strikes

Trade Union Numsa (National Union of Metal Workers South Africa) has served the Bombela Operations Company with a 48-hour strike notice.  This comes after wage negotiations between the management and the union failed.  Numsa has since stated that their members working at Gautrain would go on strike indefinitely until their demands are met.  Bombela Operations Company, or BOC, manages the Gautrain project.  Numsa accused the company of imposing a 4% wage increase without engaging with its workers.  BOC urged the union to abandon their intentions to strike and to respect the vote of the majority of the workers it represents.

Workers are demanding an 8% salary increase.  Numsa, which represents 258 employees of the 320 staff at Gautrain, said that it would down tools on Monday should the company fail to return to the negotiation table to find an amicable solution for both parties.  Phakamile Hlubi-Majola accused the BOC of refusing to engage with workers meaningfully: “In South Africa, there is a culture in the workplace where executives do as they please and impose decisions on the workforce instead of engaging with the workers to find a solution and this is the case with the BOC. While we do understand that the may have economic difficulties, probably because of COVID-19, no employer has the right to simply impose changes without meaningful engagement.”

Numsa has warned residents to make use of alternative transportation next week.

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Tame Communications (known as tameTIMES) was established in 1997. This long-established popular community title includes the key shopping centres:  Alberton City, Mall...

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