Angelo Agrizzi pays up for k-word slur, gives more to Alexandra foundation

18 August 2019 - 00:00
By ALEX PATRICK
Former Bosasa boss  Angelo Agrizzi has paid a R200,000 fine - and more - to a fund in Alexandra run by  Barney Mokgatle. Mokgatle's daughter said some people said he should not have accepted the money.
Image: Alaister Russell Former Bosasa boss Angelo Agrizzi has paid a R200,000 fine - and more - to a fund in Alexandra run by Barney Mokgatle. Mokgatle's daughter said some people said he should not have accepted the money.

Former Bosasa executive Angelo Agrizzi has paid the R200,000 he was fined for his racial slurs, but the charity that got the money has had to defend itself against claims that it is taking money from a racist.

The South African Human Rights Commission ordered Agrizzi to pay the fine and apologise after a recording of him using racist speech, including the k-word, was played at the Zondo commission in 2018.

The commission ordered the fine to be paid to the Barney Mokgatle Foundation in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Mokgatle, who runs the charity, was one of the young people at the forefront of the June 16 1976 uprising.

Barney Mokgatle of the Alexandra based foundation that received  R200 000 fine paid by Angelo  Agrizzi for using a racial slur.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo Barney Mokgatle of the Alexandra based foundation that received R200 000 fine paid by Angelo Agrizzi for using a racial slur.

Agrizzi said he decided to pay over "a great deal more" than was required after meeting Mokgatle last month.

"I'm helping with the website, business cards and everything, which comes to a lot more. The [fine] money is not enough.

"I like working with the man. We meet once or twice a week. People are wrong about me, I am not a racist. I have always worked with black people. I have been branded a racist and I'm not."

He would not say how much extra he had paid to the foundation, which cares for vulnerable children in Alexandra. Though the property is squalid and in disrepair, Mokgatle said Agrizzi's money would not go towards its refurbishment. Instead, other funds would be raised for this. Agrizzi's money would be allocated to needy schools.

"We want to build a crèche first because we need to get to children while they are still young. They need access to technology and proper education early so that they won't need the after-school programmes.

"Then we need to give children food and clothing so when they do go to school they can concentrate and learn. [The fine is] not enough money to do all that, but it's a start."

The foundation initially started as a nursery school in 1949 run by Mokgatle's mother, Ikaneng. It will officially be relaunched on September 27.

The commission's head of legal services, Buang Jones, said: "Agrizzi has paid the fine. He paid R200,000 as required but has decided to do more in terms of time and financial resources to assist the foundation meet its objectives."

But Mokgatle's daughter, Jacqui Zimba, said the community was upset that the foundation had accepted the money.

Barney Mokgatle, left, with Angelo Agrizzi, The photograph hangs on a wall of the Barney Mogatle Foundation office.
Image: Alaister Russell Barney Mokgatle, left, with Angelo Agrizzi, The photograph hangs on a wall of the Barney Mogatle Foundation office.

"People are very angry at us. They say 'but you are in the struggle - you hate whites'. We don't hate whites, we are pro-black.

"The fine was decided by the commission. We had no choice. He was given an instruction. We're not singing his praises and we do not operate under him.

"If we keep preaching reconciliation and forgiveness, then why should we not forgive this man?

"We can't say if there is sincerity [in his apology], it's not our place to judge him, but what we have seen so far is positive."

Mokgatle said: "People ask if I forgave him. I can see he is remorseful. Who am I not to forgive? Even Mandela had tea with the wife of Verwoerd. I forgive because I don't want the burden of hatred.

"He has asked for mentorship. He needs to tell his children and family and friends that the k-word should never be used. It affects and hurts everyone in SA.

"We have no choice but to live together. At the end of apartheid we needed to forgive. Why now hang on to the hate?"