Angelo Agrizzi: 'These journos' names are in my black book'
Former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi has named journalists and media consultants allegedly on the company’s payroll.
Speaking at the state capture inquiry on Monday, Agrizzi said he was approached by Bosasa spokesperson Papa Leshabane to budget R30,000 a month to pay off journalists to sway public perception of the company, which, at the time, was at the centre of corruption allegations.
"Through my interaction over the past 18 years, I always asked questions and I asked him (Leshabane) for the names. He provided them to me and these are the names I’ve got. The named journalists appear in my black book," Agrizzi said.
"At the time, Bosasa had been going through a very rough patch in terms of negative reporting from certain journalists. Leshabane approached us and said he has some friends who have the ability to swing the journalistic viewpoints on Bosasa. The other purpose was to get information from the press if there is a budding negative story and how to deal with it."
He said payments commenced in 2012.
Agrizzi named someone called "Ntuli", who he said worked at either The Times or The Star. He also named a journalist he referred to as "Bongs", from the Eastern Cape. The only journalist Agrizzi named with certainty was Pinky Khoabane.
He said he could not verify if the money given to Leshabane was handed over to journalists.
On Monday morning, Khoabane tweeted that she had never met Agrizzi.
"I have never met Angelo Agrizzi. I simply reported on his racist rants and his links. I will make a submission to the state capture inquiry," she tweeted.
Agrizzi also alleged that Bosasa employed Benedicta Dube and Stephen Laufer "on a strategic level" as media consultants.
"It was to get rid of negative publicity and also to discredit the journalists that were writing that type of article. There was an in-depth report done on various journalists, as well as a spider diagram on their links to the Stellenbosch mafia crowd. And there was basically a campaign to discredit them. If anybody came up against Bosasa they would be threatened," Agrizzi said.
"Money would be used. They (Dube and Laufer) would buy burner phones, 30 or 40 burner phones. They would purchase these phones ... phone them (journalists) all hours of the night and day and threaten them. I wasn't involved directly with it, but I recall getting a phone call from [Ferial Haffajee] regarding the attacks on [Adriaan Basson]."