Responding to the Zondo report, he says there are many more whistle-blowers, but they need protection
Angelo Agrizzi was no angel, according to the state capture inquiry, which recommended he be charged with money laundering, fraud and corruption for his role in facilitating “industrial-scale corruption” on behalf of Bosasa.
Agrizzi is already facing corruption charges, along with former ANC MP Vincent Smith, whom he implicated in corruption during his testimony at the commission in 2019. He was expected to reappear in the Palm Ridge magistrate’s court on Monday, but is in hospital.
Agrizzi, the former COO of Bosasa, said the recommendations against him were expected.
However, in a statement he bemoaned what he called a “ruthless strategy of retaliation” against him as a whistle-blower.
Commission chair, acting chief justice Raymond Zondo, described Agrizzi as a fallible yet truthful witness who knowingly implicated himself in broad criminality during his testimony.
Zondo said during his evidence Agrizzi tried to lessen his involvement in corrupt activities at Bosasa and tried to shift much of the blame onto the company’s CEO, Gavin Watson.
“His evidence was less convincing where he tried to portray a less corrupt version of himself,” said Zondo.
“His motives in revealing the extensive corruption to which he testified may have been mixed ones, rather than exclusively public-spirited ones. The disclosures followed a breakdown in relations between him and Mr Watson and, if he could somehow avoid prosecution, might have advanced his own business ambitions,” said Zondo.
“Whilst he may sometimes have sought to lessen his role to some degree, he was, on his own evidence, guilty of criminal conduct on a substantial scale. Taking this into account, along with the extensive corroborative evidence, it may be accepted that Mr Agrizzi was in the main a truthful witness, the above criticisms notwithstanding,” he said.
Responding to the commission’s findings, Agrizzi said: “I am grateful for acting chief justice Raymond Zondo’s kind words of appreciation toward me for having lifted another lid on the sewer of corruption.
“My testimony has now been overwhelmingly confirmed and criminal prosecutions will now ensue against the very long list of politicians and business people that I have named and implicated with factual evidence,” he said.
According to Agrizzi, “a ruthless strategy of retaliation was waged” against him, including attempts to try to kill him.
“Those threats will not deter me. There are many other enablers that need to be booked and there are many other potential whistle-blowers who can provide the evidence to do that. However, that will not happen as long as whistle-blowers continue to experience retaliation,” he said.
“The way whistle-blowers are being treated is despicable and I simply wish to add my voice to whistle-blowers out there, locally and internationally, to plead with President [Cyril] Ramaphosa to act now to protect them.”
Agrizzi added that his “chronic state of physical health” did not allow him to comment on the report any further and that he was due to undergo a medical procedure on Wednesday.
“My books provide an ample, in-depth narrative on the ordeal and I would urge the media to allow me to heal and rather pursue the people I have named and implicated to explain themselves.
“I have suffered enough, but am comforted in the knowledge that history will now record that the capture of the state by the Gupta brothers was enabled by the prior capture of the ANC and its deployment structures by Gavin Watson,” said Agrizzi.
State capture was “occurring on an industrial scale long before the Gupta brothers arrived on the scene”, he said.
“I participated in that corrupting ‘industrialisation’ process and am deeply remorseful about the role I played and profoundly regret not blowing the whistle when I first became aware of the wrongdoing. I have explained why in depth. I am now resolved to continue to assist wherever I can to throw off the graveclothes of state capture by allowing the liberating power of honesty, truth and justice to take new root,” said Agrizzi.