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Bossas' boss “used prayer meetings to manipulate staff”

Former Bosas CFO Andries Johannes van Tonder testifies during a state capture investigation. Photo: Itumeleng Anglo-African Information Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg. Former Bosas financial director Andries Van Tonder on Tuesday called Bosas CEO Gavin Watson a manipulative person who used people for his own purposes.

Van Tonder took the position after the explosive testimony of former CEO Angelo Agrizzi, which lasted nine days. Tonder said that Watson used obligatory prayer meetings early in the morning as a tool to control his staff.

“He used these sessions as a tool for determining loyalty to him … he insisted that everyone prayed out loud, saying that he needed to hear where we were. I stopped attending prayer meetings, which led to a deterioration in the relationship between us. "

He said that he felt used by Watson after investigating the financial affairs of Bosas conducted by the US Revenue Service (Sars), which cleared Bosas in 2015.

“I was involved in this investigation regarding Bosas … the distortions were made to Zarza, and we were cleansed. After [the] conclusion [the] investigation, our relationship deteriorated further … I realized that I no longer needed him because I won the case of Sars "

It is alleged that Watson began his attempts to get rid of Van Tondera in 2017, depriving him of his powers as CFO. Van Tonder said that he was no longer allowed to access the company's financial information or to contact banks or auditors.

“He instructed me to take part in the construction of a plant for the production of copper wire rod opposite the head office of Bosasa. He told me to free my office and move permanently to the copper rod plant, which I did not do. he wanted me to do it … at one of the stages of the meeting, he said that he wanted me to be on the road … I realized that he wanted me to be a seller for a manufacturer … I could see that he was setting me up for failure. "

Watson boasted that he was close to senior people and politicians, and publicly threatened the staff, Van Tonder said.

“Gavin would publicly disgrace the staff and threatened to fire them personally. He did this whenever he had any problems with them … or to prove his point. ”

It was a stressful environment, and I could not be there anymore. I was afraid of Watson and I still feel today … he was connected with people who were higher in the government, and many of these high-ranking people all the time were visiting Bosasa offices, ”he said.

“He fired people who did the dirty work for him … Gavin would get rid of them after they completed their task.” He even tried to get rid of [shareholder] Dr. Smith. He met with me to discuss ways to get rid of Smith. "

Van Tonder joined the company in 1995 and worked as a financial clerk. One of the shareholders at the time, Fanny Van Zil, invited management to the meeting to announce that the company would attract new shareholders to get more business opportunities.

The company was renamed Dyambu Holdings in 2000, and with it new shareholders appeared – Watson and Danny Mansell. Van Tonder showed that over the years, the stake has changed, and then the company became known as the Bosasa Group, and Watson was at the helm.

He testified that in 2017, Agrizzi asked him to secretly record Watson’s video at the box office in order to show that he was directly involved in bribing government officials in exchange for lucrative government contracts.

The video was admitted as evidence during the testimony of Agrizzi. Van Tonder said he decided to pack up and leave Bososa in November 2017, after one executive told him that Watson had suspected Van Tonder of leaking photos of the press release of former President Jacob Zuma.

“I have never seen these photos before and never had them. That day I decided to leave … I made a divorce agreement with Bosasa, ”said Van Tonder.

Bosasa, a security management and security company, now known as Africa Global Operations, sponsored Zuma's birthdays and even developed festive cakes with the Bosasa logo.

Agrizzi told the commission that the Jacob Zuma Foundation at the last minute asked Bosas to help organize and pay for events, including the celebration of Zuma’s birthday. Bosasa paid more than 3 million rubles by 2016 for the fund's events.

According to Agrizzi, the chairman of the fund, Dudu Myeni, monthly received 300,000 rubles in cash, since she was close to Zuma. The former president also received 300,000 rubles in cash, which Watson personally delivered to Zuma at his Nkandla estate in KwaZulu-Natal, the commission told Agrizzi.

Van Tonder will continue his testimony on Wednesday.

African Information Agency (ANA)

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