The arrests of five of seven former Bosasa and government officials implicated in massive corruption could indicate a new dawn at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and other law enforcement agencies, experts have suggested.
Less than a week after new head of the NPA Shamila Batohi took office, Angelo Agrizzi, a key witness in the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, and two of his former colleagues were arrested and appeared at the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria on charges related to tenders worth R1.6 billion that were awarded by the department of correctional services to Bosasa.
The accused also faced charges related to money laundering, corruption and racketeering.
Agrizzi appeared with the company’s former chief financial officer (CFO) Andries van Tonder, former Bosasa employees Frans Vorster and former correctional services CFO Patrick Gillingham.
Another former Bosasa employee, Danny Mansell, who appeared in the previous indictment on the same charges, is at the centre of dodgy transactions mentioned in the charge sheet, in which money from his account and that of a Dr J Smith was allegedly transferred to bank accounts for the benefit of Gillingham, his son Ryan and his daughter Megan.
According to NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane, another co-accused of Agrizzi’s did not appear in court today because he has yet to be arrested.
The Citizen understands the suspect in question was former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti, whose name appears on the charge sheet.
The case was postponed to March 27. All the suspects were released on R20 000 bail.
The Hawks confirmed the decision to arrest the men came from the NPA.
Executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) Lawson Naidoo said while it was unclear what took the NPA so long to decide on the decade-long case, the move suggested a renewal at the agency.
“I think the fact that the arrests took place a few days after she [Batohi] has taken office suggests a new vigour in the NPA, but in the absence of properly understanding what exactly the hold-up was in the NPA you can’t definitively attribute it to that.
“For me it’s an indication from the law enforcement agencies that they are not going to wait for the end of the commission of inquiry before they take action.”
Trade Union federation Cosatu’s parliamentary officer Mathew Parks said the arrests were a long time coming, but warned investigators not to drop the ball when the matter finally goes to trial.
“Hopefully they are not going to mess this case up on a technicality. Our unions, including Popcru, have been talking about the Bosasa case for years and no one was listening.
“But we don’t want to count our chickens too soon, until we see them in overalls. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come and that a new broom sweeps clean. We are not getting ahead of ourselves but the public is looking for that.”