AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
THE arrest of a top ANC politician on allegations of fraud and corruption related to the capture of the state by corrupt elements has triggered panic with the ANC ranks.
In separate operations, Vincent Smith, the former chair of Parliament’s Committee on Correctional Services and seven other people, including a businessman who gave millions to the ANC, were arrested in joint operation by the Haws and the Special Investigations Unit.
A number of senior ANC politicians, including two former premiers and a sitting cabinet minister, have been named in testimonies heard by the Zondo Commission of Inquiry as beneficiaries of generosity from those who in turn received state tenders worth millions of rands.
Amongst the politicians mentioned in various testimonies are Nomvula Mokonyane, a former premier of the Gauteng province and ex-cabinet minister, Ace Magashule, the former premier of the Free State and current secretary general of the ANC, Gwede Mantshe, the current minister of Energy and Mineral Resources as well as national chairperson of the ANC, Thulas Nxesi, the current Minister of Employment and Labour, Zizi Kodwa, the Deputy Minister of State Security, Pinky Kekana, the Deputy Minister of Communication and Paul Mashatile, the current ANC treasurer-general.
After Smith’s arrest and his release on a bail of R30 000, the words “who is next” have gone viral in ANC circles.
Smith was arrested after evidence was tabled before the Zondo commission that he received R671 000 and had a R200 000 security system installed at his home by Bosasa, a company that got contracts worth billions from the government.
It is the state’s case that Smith failed to do his oversight duties as an MP, after he received gratifications from Bosasa. The prosecution also wants Smith punished for failing to declare to Parliament, as required by the law, free gifts such as the R200 000 from Bosasa.
The prosecution’s intentions are contained in a 39-page indictment presented in court where Smith was granted a R30 000 bail.
In the indictment, head of National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigations Directorate Hermina Cronje outlined the case against Smith, his company Euro Blitz and Angelo Agrizzi, the former Bosasa chief operations officer-turned-whistleblower.
Agrizzi, the man who confessed to paying Smith the suspected kickbacks is expected to join Vincent Smith in the dock on October 14, when the case is expected to continue.
Agrizzi could not appear in court with Smith because he is unwell.
Smith, who has become the first high profile ANC politician to be arrested for corruption related to the state capture inquiry, has vowed to prove his innocence.
In an affidavit to support his bail application, Smith denied the charges, said he will plead not guilty.
He said: “I will stand my trial. I am determined to prove innocence.”
Smith told the court that he is a divorced pensioner on a R21 000 monthly income and lives with his son in Roodepoort with his son.
He has admitted receiving R690 000 from Bosasa, a company that was awarded contracts worth millions by the Department of Correctional Services but said these were loans and not kickbacks.
Smith told the Zondo Commission that he had approached Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi for a personal loan in 2015 to help pay for his daughter’s university fees. He denied testimony from Agrizzi that the amounts were kickbacks payments from then Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson. Two payments were made to Smith, through his company’s bank account, valued at 265,000 and R395, 000.
Smith told the commission that he had a verbal agreement with Agrizzi that the money would be paid back when his company shares matured in 2023. Smith said the money was paid through his company where it was audited and recorded as a loan.
The arrest of Smith and separately, other senior state officials and business people implicated in fraud and corruption comes two years after the government threatened a crackdown against fraud and corruption.
In a major breakthrough, the Hawks, South Africa’s elite investigations urgency, have arrested six people, among them a politically connected businessman who has admitted to donating millions to the ANC and giving huge amounts of money to members of the governing party. The seventh suspect has handed himself to the police.