Hawks deny Angelo Agrizzi arrest aimed at 'sabotaging' state capture inquiry

10 February 2019 - 00:00 By KARYN MAUGHAN

The Hawks have dismissed claims by Bosasa whistleblower Angelo Agrizzi that his arrest this week was aimed at sabotaging the state capture inquiry.
Agrizzi told the Sunday Times he was "shocked" that he and former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder had been arrested after their testimony at the Zondo commission and before they faced cross-examination.
Agrizzi, Van Tonder and former senior correctional services officials Linda Mti and Patrick Gillingham were arrested this week in connection with corruption related to Bosasa and two of its subsidiary companies.
"One can only deduce the motive behind this was to discourage continuation of the state capture inquiry process," said Agrizzi.
"Our arrests don't make any logical sense. We have spent the last 18 months trying to ensure the Bosasa corruption was exposed. We met with numerous key persons in various crime-fighting governmental agencies and co-operated with them as much as we possibly could, with no tangible results - except for our arrests."
The state capture inquiry declined to comment on the impact of the arrests on its investigations, but Agrizzi claimed that 22 potential witnesses to alleged Bosasa corruption are now reconsidering providing statements to the Zondo commission.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi - though conceding that Agrizzi had been assisting the Hawks with other Bosasa investigations at the time of his arrest - said the accusation was unfounded.
"The arrests have nothing to do with the commission's work and we still encourage people to answer the call of duty and expose the corruption in our country," he said.
He said the work of the Hawks "is being undermined" by the accusation.
"The arrests were made after the National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] gave the investigating team the go-ahead on Monday as they were satisfied that there is a strong case against the accused."
Mulaudzi said Agrizzi had, through his lawyers, been assisting the Hawks with other Bosasa investigations against unnamed suspects at the time of his arrest, as part of a "second leg" of investigations into the facility management company - which has scored billions of rands in government tenders.
These investigations relate to corruption dockets opened against a cabinet minister and member of parliament.
The Hawks stressed that the NPA made the call on the timing of the arrests.
NPA head of communications Bulelwa Makeke yesterday confirmed that Batohi had not been briefed before this week's arrests.
"The NDPP was not consulted or briefed before the prosecutors took the decision. She has requested an urgent briefing from the prosecutors."
The NPA has confirmed the decision to prosecute Agrizzi and fellow Bosasa accused was made by two prosecutors at the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit of the NPA.
The unit was previously run by suspended senior advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, who, together with another senior prosecutor, Nomgcobo Jiba, is facing accusations that the unit deliberately shut down the prosecution of former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
Agrizzi has testified that Mti told him he bribed Jiba and Mrwebi on behalf of Bosasa, to ensure that prosecutions linked to a 2009 Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report into tender-rigging by the company never saw the light of day.
Jiba and Mrwebi vehemently deny these allegations. The charges against Agrizzi and his co-accused stem from that SIU report, and relate to the awarding of four correctional services tenders valued at over R1.6bn.
Agrizzi is due to testify at the Mokgoro inquiry into Jiba and Mrwebi's fitness to hold office. Jiba's attorney Zola Majavu yesterday said any suggestion that she was connected to Agrizzi's arrest was "insulting".
Agrizzi's attorney Daniel Witz said that Agrizzi and Van Tonder would this week consider legal advice on whether he should give his testimony at the Mokgoro inquiry, and continue testifying before Zondo.

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