News

Charles Cilliers
Journalist
10 minute read
13 Nov 2019
9:49 am

Many versions: How Agrizzi’s son Giancarlo couldn’t keep his story straight

Charles Cilliers

In January, Giancarlo Agrizzi levelled serious accusations against several individuals in both Bosasa and the ANC. Eight months later, he backtracked on all of it. When asked to explain why, he had no answers.

Giancarlo Agrizzi. Picture: WhatsApp

Near the start of this year, after his father, Angelo Agrizzi, made headlines sensationally on the witness stand at the state capture commission, Giancarlo Agrizzi was asked to clarify his relationship with former national commissioner of correctional services Linda Mti, while also talking about what he had experienced while working for the ANC in Gauteng.

His father had just implicated Mti as the alleged recipient of a R65,000 monthly payment, among other alleged bribes, in order to facilitate tenders for controversial facilities management company Bosasa in the South African prison system.

READ MORE: How Linda Mti, other execs were allegedly ‘bought’ by Bosasa

Agrizzi Senior had in fact been the one who put The Citizen in contact with his son in order for us to get a prepared statement from him about his involvement with Bosasa.

You can read the article we put up based on that statement here.

About eight months later, however, Giancarlo released yet another statement that directly contradicted much of what he had told The Citizen in January. Naturally, we were curious about why so much appeared to have changed in how Giancarlo Agrizzi understood his own past, particularly the details around why he had started a company with alleged links to Bosasa with someone who later went on to become the DA’s youth leader, why and how he had joined the ANC, the work he had done there, and why he left the ANC.

To explain the discrepancies, he merely claimed that he had been put “under pressure” to say what he had to The Citizen in January about his alleged involvement with state capture, but had apparently now had time to sort out the facts and “set the record straight”.

However, in doing so, he only raised further questions. He has resolutely decided not to answer any more questions, despite being contacted by The Citizen for clarification on all the confusion he created, and despite being given more than two weeks to respond.

His father has also repeatedly told The Citizen that he no longer wishes to be quoted on the record while he faces his own numerous legal challenges, including a criminal case related to a prisons tender awarded to Bosasa while he was the company’s chief operating officer.

The January jumble

On 22 January this year, Giancarlo claimed that, in 2014, he was approached by his father to start a company with Linda Mti’s son Vukani Mti, which would provide “consultancy services to various government agencies”. Giancarlo claimed that in so doing his father had been acting under the instructions of Bosasa’s now late CEO Gavin Watson.

However, in his subsequent statement published on BizNews on 27 September, and which was also sent to The Citizen in response to our own fresh queries, Giancarlo completely contradicted this, claiming that he and his university friend Luyolo Mphithi had independently come up with the idea of starting a consultancy company and that Giancarlo had actually been the one to approach his father to “assist us in networking with the right people who could point us in the right direction”.

Giancarlo declined to explain why he completely changed versions.

In January, he told The Citizen that he and his father had met with Linda Mti and his son Vukani at Clearwater Mall, where Giancarlo was then supposedly “coerced” into starting a company that was to have Vukani as a shareholder. It was registered under the GLZ Group of Companies, trading as the Indlala Group of Companies, he revealed.

Giancarlo was asked why he had made accusations in January about Mti and Watson supposedly putting pressure on the Agrizzis to do their bidding, only to completely abandon this version in September. He did not provide any answer.

In January, he also told The Citizen that the plan with Indlala had been to work to assist the youth and that “there was nothing untoward in this regard”. When now asked how – if it was indeed true that he and Mphithi had formed their company independently, as he now claims – he could have been told this, he also declined to answer.

In January, Giancarlo claimed that when it “later become known to me that there was a dubious relationship between Mr Linda Mti and Mr Gavin Watson from Bosasa, now known as African Global, I immediately ceased work for the Indlala Group of Companies, as did Mr Luyolo Mphiti”.

However, he also completely backtracked on this statement eight months later after Mphithi himself told The Citizen that the reason he had ceased working for Indlala was simply that he had accepted a job in the Mpumalanga Legislature before being elected as the DA Youth’s federal leader.

Mphiti told The Citizen he’d never had any idea that Indlala was connected to either Angelo Agrizzi or Linda Mti.

Mphiti said he started Indlala with a group of friends, including Giancarlo, who he met in his honours year at Wits University. He said “nothing materialised” beyond the registration of the company, and that he “resigned from the company in June that year after accepting a job in Mpumalanga”.

In his September statement, Giancarlo similarly said that he had resigned from Indlala because he took up occupation with the ANC in the Gauteng Legislature. When asked why he had claimed in January that he had resigned as a result of the “dubious relationship” he became aware of, he declined to answer.

Giancarlo was also challenged to explain his September claim that he had been the one to ask his father for help, and that Angelo had then suggested working with Vukani Mti, when this directly contradicted Giancarlo’s earlier claim of being “coerced” into working with Vukani.

He declined to answer.

Unexplained “pressures”

When asked to explain why he had claimed that Gavin Watson had “pressured” Angelo Agrizzi into requesting the meeting with Mti, Giancarlo declined to answer.

In his September statement, he admitted that he could not say that Watson had pressured his father into requesting the meeting. He tried to explain this change of view by claiming that he had “now taken time to think about everything and [was] not being pressurised into giving a statement”.

When asked if it had in fact been his father who had pressured him into giving his initial, apparently wildly untrue, statement to The Citizen in January – or to simply explain who had pressured him – Giancarlo declined to answer.

ANC times

Giancarlo had told The Citizen in January about how he was employed in the ANC Caucus in Gauteng in 2015, “wherein there are various accusations being raised that [ANC MP and Bosasa-bribe accused] Mr Vincent Smith assisted me in getting a job at the ANC”.

He claimed in January that he had made it public knowledge that he was employed by the “then secretary of Caucus, Mr Sipho Makama, and was hired on the basis that my qualifications exceeded those of the job request”.

Smith, however, publicly admitted that he had in fact assisted in sending Giancarlo’s CV around in 2015 to “the correct people and places”.

When Giancarlo was asked if he was still maintaining the version that his father had never approached Smith for assistance in finding him work within the ANC, or that Smith did not assist him in any way to find work within the ANC, Giancarlo declined to answer.

He claimed in January that, during his time at the ANC, he was “coerced by a gentleman who is a current employee of Bosasa to allow Bosasa to do branding for the ANC’s campaign and arrange a helicopter for the [ANC’s] Siyanqoba rally on July the 4th”.

In January he also revealed that the estimated cost of the branding had been R200,000.

In his later statement in September, however, he then claimed to “have very little knowledge about anything at Bosasa” and that “my father and I have never spoken in depth about Bosasa”.

When asked how, since he was apparently now so ill-informed about these matters, he had still somehow known what the cost of the branding for the ANC’s campaign had been, along with other details that he had shared with The Citizen in January, he declined to answer.

In January, Giancarlo also claimed that when he became aware that the reason for the branding donation was that he would have been expected to facilitate meetings with senior politicians in Gauteng, he “immediately refused to do this, said that it went against the ethics of the ANC and that [he] would not facilitate any meetings”.

Giancarlo was asked if this was still true and how he had become aware of the “unethical” reasons behind the branding donations. He declined to answer. He also would not confirm who the “senior politicians” in question had been.

In January he claimed that he ended his employment with the ANC after he allegedly learnt that Brian Hlongwa (the then Gauteng ANC chief whip) and Sochayile Khanyile (who later replaced him as chief whip) had a relationship with World Tel and that these contracts were allegedly being inflated.

“I openly opposed this contract but was advised by the former finance manager that I should not even try. World Tel owner Mr Shalin Govender had a close relationship with Mr Hlongwa and Mr Khanyile. I believe the contract remains in place to date and the relationship still exists between all parties,” he claimed in January.

When asked if his prior accusations still had any truth to them in the light of his apparently new approach to reality in September, and why he had in any event waited for years before speaking to the media about it, Giancarlo declined to answer.

Clear as mud

Giancarlo reportedly initially approached BizNews in September to clarify “the facts”, but he then declined an interview request from them. BizNews said he later also refused to answer “10 simple, direct questions about his business links with DA employees and office-bearers”.

He instead gave them his new statement in which he, in effect, pleaded to be left alone, a plea that was repeated in response to The Citizen’s follow-up questions.

“What I can say is that I have not been involved in any of this, I have tried to keep my family out of this and would appreciate that my statement clarifies any questions anyone has regarding my involvement,” he said in his BizNews statement.

Giancarlo told The Citizen via WhatsApp last month that he believed his September statement was “sufficient and clears it up and puts the matter to bed”.

Despite the fact that his January statement had implicated a number of people in numerous acts of alleged wrongdoing, he said he was “not willing to engage or comment further on these matters as I think they are being drawn out with no real purpose and seem not to be in the interest of the public”.

“I stand by my statement given to BizNews, which was drafted calmly and having had time to think about everything, including the facts.”

He said that if there were “any conflicts with the original story” he advised The Citizen to “please rather focus on my statement sent to both yourselves and BizNews, which was not drafted under difficult circumstances”.

He refused to clarify what these difficult circumstances had been and then alleged that The Citizen was placing his life as well as the lives of his wife and two daughters at risk, by asking him questions.

When asked to clarify how this was possible, he changed tack and answered: “When I suggest that you [are] placing me at risk, in no way am I suggesting I am fearful, I’m not. I just feel that being dragged into this is unnecessary because there is no story here. You are placing me in a spotlight I don’t need to be in.”

He maintained that he had “set the record straight” and had nothing further to say.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.