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Gavin Watson's death leaves more questions to answer

Photo file: supplied.

Cape Town – The death of Gavin Watson on a slipway at the airport adds drama and speculation to the saga, in which high-profile apartheid opponents become key players in a corruption scandal that has steadily absorbed confidence in the country's democratic government.

Watson, 71, died when a Toyota, which he drove at high speed, crashed into a concrete pillar at OR Tambo International Airport early Monday morning.

His own luxury BMW SUV was parked in the basement of the Krugersdorp offices of African Global Operations, the new name for the company, better known as Bosasa, which vies with the Gupta business empire for being the main accused of alleged corruption with the state.

For a long time this was not so. Revelations of the state capture scandal focused on the Gupta brothers and the billions they reportedly cost South Africa due to their influence on the Zuma administration and state-owned enterprises.

Bosas remained relatively unnoticed, despite an investigation launched in 2007 by the Special Investigation Unit for gender-based corruption in connection with its lucrative contracts with the correctional department.

The Watson brothers – Gavin, Cheeky, Ronnie and Wales – are from a farm in Eastern Cape, the sons of a lay preacher, strongly opposed to racial segregation. Brothers, Gavin was the eldest, attended posh Graham College, where they excelled in rugby.

Ironically, rugby, one of the apartheid bastions, strengthened the family’s beliefs against apartheid and became famous for activist involvement in the training of black players, while the brothers also rejected the white rugby institution to play for black rugby clubs. Soon, the brothers caught the attention of apartheid police, who detained and interrogated them several times.

When the brothers went into business, they served mainly a black clientele and received even greater support in society and the anti-apartheid movement.

In the mid-1990s, Gavin Watson became a member of the Dyambo Trust, which secured a contract to operate the Lindell Repatriation Center.

The company was the forerunner of Bosasa, and this deal was the first in a portfolio that quickly developed the business by providing catering and facility management services for government organizations.

Over time, he received contracts with the state in the amount of 12 billion rubles.

How this happened was set out in a frank testimony from former CEO Angelo Agrizzi to a state commission scandal investigation commission earlier this year.

Agrizzi informed the commission about the systematic payment of bribes, starting with trade union bosses in the late 1999s, in order to facilitate his new business in managing mine hostels, and adding on average up to 5 million rubles. Per month as the business expands.

He contracted with Sasol, the Department of Corrections, the South African Post Office and the South African Airport Company, and ultimately employed over 4,500 people. Everywhere, Watson portrayed his corporate culture as based on a strong religious faith and a spirit of empowerment.

Agrizzi compared this to a "cult."

Krugersdorp headquarters staff began their day with prayer meetings, but in the background, he said, he was instructed to arrange bribes in cash, with Cartier handles, a Louis Vuitton bag full of banknotes, and in the case of former Prime Minister Gauteng Nomvul Mokonyan . Huge orders of food and drink come at Christmas.

Equally contrary to the image of the company, the racist explosion of Agritzi in the record played in the commission. On the tape, he repeatedly used the derogatory "K-word" to refer to black people. The recording was made at dinner with Watson's children.

The revelations of Bossas not only undermined the narrative that the seizure of the state was largely limited to the Gupta brothers. Given the fact that the Gupta scandal has gripped the Zuma administration, Bosas’s accusations deceive President Cyril Ramafos of a donation of 500,000 rubles to his campaign to gain the presidency of the ruling party in 2017 and undermine his efforts, which can be seen as obvious. break with the corruption of the past.

Watson's death is likely to leave many questions unanswered in the unfolding investigation, which follows from the testimony of Agrizzi.

James Brent Stein, co-author of The Bosasa Billions, said that no matter how you look at Watson, his complex legacy.

“Depending on who you ask, you will either hear that Watson was a cult hero of the struggle and a successful businessman, or he was a deeply corrupt leader of the cult of state capture.

“It is known that Watson did not record or record. He did not have a computer or office. Therefore, the impact of his death on the investigations in Bossas is huge. He was a central figure in uncovering the truth about all the charges related to Bossas, and now he is no longer here to tell his version of events. This is a major blow to the investigation. ”

African News Agency (ANA)

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