'I only received gifts, not money' - ANC MP Cedric Frolick claps back on Bosasa allegations
A desktop computer, shirts, shoes and a belt - these were items received by senior ANC MP Cedric Frolick as “birthday gifts” from Cheeky Watson, brother of the former Bosasa boss Gavin, the state capture inquiry heard on Friday.
Frolick said these were the only Bosasa-linked items he received as gifts on his birthday, and not money as alleged by whistle blower Angelo Agrizzi in 2019.
Agrizzi alleged that Frolick was used by the company to facilitate meetings between the company and various politicians and paid R40,000 a month. He claimed at the time the corrupt relationship with the company dated as far back as 10 years ago.
However, the MP clapped back on the allegations, saying he had a personal relationship with Cheeky since the 1980s, while he was a student leader.
“Chairperson, I would like to state that I did not receive money from Bosasa, let alone monthly payments. I deny evidence that I received money.”
He however confirmed to have received more than R25,000 which he said was not for his personal use, rather for that of his party.
“During 2014, before the general elections, I received amounts totalling about R25,000 from Mr V [Valance] Watson as a contribution to the ANC election funds. At the time, I served on the finance and fundraising committee,” he testified.
Valence Watson is Gavin's brother.
Frolick said he declared the “birthday gifts” before parliament. The R25,000 was also confirmed by the treasurer of the committee at the time, he added.
“I have to mention that during the course of 2013-14, I received a desktop computer ... I also received two shirts, two pairs of shoes and a belt from Mr Cheeky Watson some time on my birthday ... I subsequently declared that to parliament.”
Agrizzi earlier claimed Watson told him to go to Port Elizabeth and hand Frolick a parcel of cash with R40,000 in R200 notes. He said he met Frolick at Valence's home.
Frolick disputed this and said he did not recall having such a meeting.
“I respectfully point out that Mr Agrizzi did not point out how I would have received these payments ... His failure to give any details on the alleged irregular payments speaks volumes and also make it difficult for me to comprehensively respond to him,” he said.
Chairperson of the commission, deputy justice Raymond Zondo, asked why Watson wanted to “frequently” speak to Frolick based on cellphone records at the possession of the commission.
“We had that type of a relationship, that is how I know the brothers. They are good friends of mine and that's the way they engage,” said Frolick.
Zondo also pointed out that there had been “quite frequent” calls between Frolick and Mr Vincent Smith - then correctional services portfolio committee chairperson - which the MP did not deny.
The commission heard during Aggrizzi's testimony that as far back as 2010, Frolick was allegedly tasked with “crossing the impasse” between Bosasa and Smith.
However, Frolick said he was executing his parliamentary duties in all the communication with Smith.
Frolick said Smith headed an inquiry into the SABC and the public hearings on the possible amendment of the constitution - to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation - at the time.
“As with Mr Smith and other chairpersons, they would call for procedural advice or call and say logistics were not in place or there's a problem with staff allocation ... they would call continuously ... that’s the nature of my job.”
Smith was also implicated in state capture after allegations emerged that he received security upgrades to his home by Bosasa and that the company footed the bill for his daughter's tertiary education.
Zondo expressed dismay at how Bosasa corruption continued while portfolio committees did not “put pressure” to halt it.
“For many years, I was reading in the media about all kinds of allegations/corruptions against Bosasa ... My question was, how did it come about that Bosasa continued to be awarded contract after contact by government entities when there were these stories all over?” he said.
“Now, if the correctional services portfolio committee was aware that there were all kinds of allegations of corruption against Bosasa and they got to know that the department of correctional services kept on giving them contracts or extending them, certainly the committee would be capable of taking a strong position on the issue and say to the DG or minister, this must stop.”
Frolick said he agreed with Zondo's sentiments but declined to comment further.
He volunteered to return to the commission to address the issue specifically on a date which was yet to be determined.