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Agrizzi's PA tells state capture inquiry about Nomvula Mokonyane's birthday hampers from Bosasa

02 September 2020 - 13:55 By Nonkululeko Njilo
ANC NEC member Nomvula Mokonyane was allegedly the recipient of gift hampers from Bosasa.
ANC NEC member Nomvula Mokonyane was allegedly the recipient of gift hampers from Bosasa.
Image: GCIS

ANC NEC member Nomvula Mokonyane was regularly sent birthday hampers from the offices of Bosasa executives, the state capture inquiry heard on Wednesday.

Mokonyane’s name was flagged by Gina Pieters, the former PA of former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi, when she testified about interactions she had when arranging presents for Mokonyane and her PA of 21 years, Sandy Thomas.

Pieters revealed that she authorised the gifts to the duo with instructions from Agrizzi and help from the procurement department at Bosasa.

“At some point in my tenure to Mr Agrizzi I was requested to send [birthday] hampers to Nomvula Mokonyane and her PA, Sandy Thomas. I cannot, however, recall the exact date but I do have evidence that it was definitely from 2010. It could have been before that as well,” Pieters said.

She said the sending of hampers was a common occurrence, and she had reminders set for them to be delivered. The hampers included chocolates, nuts and dried fruit. She told the inquiry she interacted directly with Thomas, who asked for the hampers to be delivered to her physical address.

Pieters made reference to e-mails in which she facilitated the sending of hampers. In one e-mail directed to the then head of Bosasa's procurement department, Dudu Dube, she asked for the hampers to be delivered as soon as possible.

“Happy birthday. May the Lord bless you always. Regards Gavin,” read one message accompanying a hamper meant for Mokonyane. [The late Gavin Watson was CEO of Bosasa.]

The e-mail stipulated “please do not make any reference to Bosasa” in capital letters.

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Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi’s former PA, Gina Pieters, took the stand at the state capture inquiry on September 2 2020. She laid out how Bosasa executives made sure that flowers, hampers and other “surprises” would be sent to then minister of environmental affairs Nomvula Mokonyane and her PA, Sandy Thomas.

Asked why this had been the case, Pieters responded: “Mr Agrizzi used to ask me to do that when things were confidential and there were not to be any links made to Bosasa, so it could not implicate or link them in an untoward manner.” 

Thomas, who has also appeared at the inquiry, denied allegations about receiving hampers.

Pieters said this was odd as the supplier had been reliable and often communicated when parcels could not be delivered to intended recipients.

She could not, however, ascertain whether Mokonyane, Thomas and Agrizzi communicated on a regular basis as most people contacted him on his cellphone and not the office line.

Agrizzi earlier made startling allegations against numerous government officials, including former president Jacob Zuma and Mokonyane. Last year he told the inquiry that Bosasa gifted Mokonyane with Christmas groceries which included premium brandy and packs of meat.  

Mokonyane was also implicated by another witness, Richard le Roux, who claimed Bosasa had done maintenance work in the form of security features at her home.