I sought help and I'm no longer a racist - Angelo Agrizzi
I’m no longer a racist.
These were the words of former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi at the state capture commission on Thursday night as he was involved in often terse exchanges with Reg Willis, who was cross-examining him on behalf of his client, Kevin Wakeford.
In earlier testimony, Agrizzi had accused Wakeford of having an influence in home affairs' and Sars' dealings with Bosasa.
Responding to Willis on whether, in his earlier testimony at the commission, where he admitted to being a racist was “in the present or past tense”, Agrizzi said that he had since sought help and even visited Alexandra township at some point in the pursuit of change.
He said the SA Human Rights Commission, including its Gauteng provincial manager Buang Jones, who he worked closely with, was instrumental in his change of heart about race.
“I was honest and I spoke and I explained to the chairperson [deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo] exactly what I had done wrong. And I went and sought help for that.
“I'm no longer a racist. They have assisted me and they helped me not to think of race as a colour. I’ve become aware and I’ve worked with them, even in Alexandra, and I enjoyed it. So my answer to advocate Wallis is, 'No. There is no longer even a racist thing in my mind.'
“I was a racist when I made that comment, chair. What I said was despicable.”
Wakeford, in his earlier testimony at the commission, accused Agrizzi of being a racist and narcissist.
During the grilling by Willis on Thursday, Agrizzi also admitted to being so annoyed at Wakeford’s testimony that he switched off his television.
Willis - who started off by asking Agrizzi whether he was “fallible” and that there was the possibility that he could have made inaccurate statements in his affidavit and during his testimony - also questioned Agrizzi whether he “despised” Wakeford and the late Gavin Watson.
“Mr Agrizzi, the evidence of Mr Wakeford was that you despise him. You despise Mr Wakeford, don't you? You also despise the late Mr Watson?” asked Willis
Agrizzi responded: “That's not true. The environment that he created and put us into the situation that we are in today, I despise. There was no such thing as despising Mr Wakeford. I don't know where this has come from ... it's never been like this.
“I despise what happens and what people do. But you can’t not love people.”
Agrizzi he was all about telling the truth.
“All I can do is put facts on the table. I'm so confused that Mr Wakeford is annoyed with me, upset with me, but I never hated him,” he said.
He also denied accusations that he was trying to make Wakeford “suffer” through his testimony.
“I don't know about suffering or anything like that. I have no contact with the Watsons or with Wakeford. I haven't talked with them. I don't worry about, you know, looking around. And I’ve been having my hands full. The allegations I’ve made are true. Just like I had to fix the issues that I had, he needs to fix the issues he had,” he said.
When Willis referred to him as a “whistle-blower”, Agrizzi said he preferred not to be referred to by this term, saying that a book he recently read referred to the so-called whistle-blowers as heroes. He said the book described heroes as the ones who exposed the rotten corruption and scandals.
Asked by Willis why he waited about two years before testifying at the commission, Agrizzi said he submitted detailed affidavits to the Hawks, but no action was taken.
“We tried to report it to everybody. We finally reached through a newspaper release, which we sent out. In the newspaper release we said we need to open this thing up,” he said, adding that he was later assured that going to the commission was the right way to go.