We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Gavin Watson 'kept no records' - death a setback to state capture probe

26 August 2019 - 15:17 By TimesLIVE
Bosasa chief executive officer Gavin Watson died when his car crashed into a concrete pillar under a bridge at OR Tambo airport on August 26 2019.
Bosasa chief executive officer Gavin Watson died when his car crashed into a concrete pillar under a bridge at OR Tambo airport on August 26 2019.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Gavin Watson, who was killed in a car crash on Monday morning, kept no notes or records - his abrupt death is a major setback to investigations into the extent of Bosasa's role in the state capture scandal.

“It is known that Watson didn’t keep notes or records,” said James-Brent Styan, co-author of The Bosasa Billions, on Monday. “He didn’t have a computer or an office. The impact of his death on the Bosasa investigations is therefore immense. He was a central figure to uncovering the truth about all the allegations relating to Bosasa, and now he’s not here to tell his version of events. It’s a major setback for the investigation.”

The former Bosasa CEO crashed into the pillar of an overhead bridge just outside OR Tambo International Airport early on Monday. The front of the vehicle was obliterated by the force of the collision.

Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson was confirmed dead on the scene of a fatal car accident near O.R Tambo airport on August 26 2019. Watson, who has been implicated in the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, allegedly lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a concrete pillar. A case of culpable homicide has been opened.

The Bosasa group won lucrative government tenders and was later deeply implicated during testimony at the inquiry into state capture. The company was also linked to a R500,000 donation to the CR17 election campaign

The Bosasa Billions book was described as the “first definitive account” of the Bosasa saga, in which Watson was a key role-player.

Styan described Watson as a complex character. “Depending on who you ask, you’ll either hear that Watson was an iconic struggle hero and a successful businessman or that he was the deeply corrupt leader of a state capture cult,” said Styan, who researched Watson’s Port Elizabeth roots and involvement in state capture.

Co-author Paul Vecchiatto said: “He, along with his family, played a pivotal and controversial role in the shaping of South African politics and business. We would have dearly wanted to see Mr Watson appear before the commission of inquiry into state capture to tell his side of the story, as we believe he had the most in-depth knowledge of all involved. Our sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones,” he added.

The DA called on police to “probe the circumstances leading up to the fateful accident”.

“The death of Gavin Watson may have a material impact on the work of the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. It is therefore vital, given SAPS stating that a case of 'culpable homicide' has been opened, that even a whiff of foul play is dispelled by a thorough and transparent investigation,” said party spokesperson Solly Malatsi in a statement.

Angelo Agrizzi’s testimony, as well as the revelations by DA Leader Mmusi Maimane of the cosy and potentially corrupt relationship Bosasa had with the ANC and [President Cyril] Ramaphosa, indicate that Gavin Watson had a lot to say before the Zondo commission of inquiry,” said the DA.