‘Watson believed he was totally bulletproof with Zuma on his side’ — Zondo report

02 March 2022 - 06:28
By Amanda Khoza
The late Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi The late Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.

The late former Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson thought that with former president Jacob Zuma by his side, he was invincible. This is according to the third volume of the Zondo commission report into state capture released on Tuesday.

The report has detailed how Zuma met Watson, who died in a car crash in 2019, on several occasions to discuss “shutting down the Hawks investigation into Bosasa”.

According to Bosasa whistle-blower Angelo Agrizzi, Watson met Zuma through Zukiswa Madonga, a woman who ran a lodge in East London and with whom he had a good relationship.

Madonga was introduced to Watson by one of the Bosasa directors, Thandi Makoko.

It was not long after the meetings that Agrizzi received an instruction to “top up the limit on Makoko’s credit card so that she could buy dresses for Madonga,” reads the report.

Subsequently, Watson met Zuma at his Forest Town home in Johannesburg in 2009. Though Agrizzi took Watson to Zuma’s house, he did not participate in the meeting.

The report says that meetings took place at the Bosasa office park in Krugersdorp where high-profile people were introduced to the directors. Guests were taken on a tour of the building in what Agrizzi called a “4.5 hour long smokes and mirrors exercise”.

Some meetings took place at Zuma’s Nkandla homestead shortly after the compound made headlines.

“The purpose of this visit was to discuss shutting down the Hawks investigation into Bosasa. During this meeting, Watson asked Zuma to call (former Hawks head Anwa) Dramat to tell him to shut down the matter. At the time, Dramat was avoiding (Nomvula) Mokonyane,” reads the report.

In a later meeting between Watson, Agrizzi and former correctional services head Linda Mti, Watson told Mti that he should tell former acting prosecutions boss Nomgcobo Jiba that “he was waiting for her to make a move in the process to shut the Bosasa investigation down”.

Watson referred to Jiba as the “president’s person”.

“Agrizzi was also present at a meeting at Mti’s house during which Watson spoke to Zuma on the telephone. During this call, Watson handed the telephone to Mti saying ‘your boss wants to speak to you’.

“Agrizzi recalled Mti taking the phone and speaking in either Xhosa or Zulu and when he was about to finish, he said in English: 'I am ready to be deployed'.”

The report states that during the morning meetings at Bosasa, Watson often praised Zuma.

“Agrizzi commented that Watson believed that he was ‘totally bulletproof’ with Zuma on his side,” reads the report.