Watson told me to delete evidence, says former Bosasa IT manager
Former Bosasa IT manager Leon van Tonder told the state capture inquiry on Thursday how he erased incriminating evidence from the company’s server while the Special Investigating Unit was sniffing around in 2008.
Van Tonder said he was acting on the instruction of Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.
"I was instructed to make sure all the data, documents on the servers and selected employees’ desktops and laptops was deleted," Van Tonder said.
He said the information related to contracts awarded to Bosasa from the department of correctional services (DCS) between 2004 and 2007. He added that former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi had instructed him to prepare a statement saying that he was conducting routine maintenance on the server.
This was used as a guise to erase information incriminating the company.
"In my opinion there is nothing untoward when deleting nonessential data from the servers. However, when you receive an instruction to delete tenders awarded from 2004 to 2007 it immediately told me something was wrong. In my view that is not nonessential data," he said.
"I was given keywords to search for the documents related to the tenders awarded to Bosasa by the DCS, words like tender specification, fencing, catering ... I came across two specific files which caught my attention because they appeared to relate to tender specifications."
Van Tonder said he copied both these files to hard drives and CDs. These files are said to have had information on catering contracts awarded by DCS.
"I just felt in my heart it was wrong to delete these files. I thought I needed to keep those files. I was not prepared to compromise myself. I was aware of the fact that the SIU was investigating the company. I kept back-ups of the files because I believed what [Watson] instructed me to do was wrong," he said.
Van Tonder said he handed the files to Agrizzi in 2015 or 2016, and Agrizzi had apparently handed these over to the commission.
The inquiry continues.