The ANC has expressed its shock at the death of corruption-accused Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.
Watson died in a car accident near OR Tambo International Airport on Monday. A case of culpable homicide has been opened by the police.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe detailed Watson’s history as an “anti-apartheid activist” who, together with his brothers, “associated themselves with the struggle for liberation at an early age and fought side by side with many compatriots against apartheid”.
“It was in his home province of the Eastern Cape, where comrade Gavin Watson made the admirable and brave choice of disassociating himself with the privilege that came with being a white male in apartheid South Africa and choosing to participate actively in pursuing the ideals of a free, democratic and non-racial South Africa,” Mabe said.
Watson and his brothers, he added, were well-known within the United Democratic Front (UDF) as well as the ANC underground during apartheid.
Mabe said that, through the “family businesses”, Watson also supported uMkhonto weSizwe operatives who were on the run from the police in the Eastern Cape.
“He extended this role by mobilising other white business persons to support and join the effort of creating a democratic and free South Africa for all.”
Mabe said Watson fought for non-racial sport, with a focus on rugby, which “resulted in one of the most symbolic acts of opposition and discontent against discrimination in sport”.
“His charity work in support of youth and communities in distress on the West Rand was admirable and his death has surely robbed those communities of a philanthropist who gave hope and inspired many young people within those communities through skills training and development.”
The ANC also extended its condolences to Watson’s family, friends and colleagues.
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Watson was due to testify at an inquiry into his tax affairs on Tuesday.
His testimony would have been about an investigation by Sars into his tax compliance. The inquiry flowed from testimony at the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture that implicated him.
It is uncertain how Watson’s death will affect the inquiry.
The inquiry was focused on establishing the facts surrounding allegations that he and the companies in the Bosasa stable had failed to comply with tax obligations and sought to hide assets from Sars.