A DOSSER detailing contradictory statements made by the lying self-confessed criminal and racist Angelo Aggrizi has been published by Alec Hogg in Biz News. https://www.biznews.com/undictated/2019/09/23/bosasa-files-gavin-watson-evidence. The evidence shows among others that Aggrizi, who has become South Africa’s blue-eyed boy for lying about many people at the Zondo Commission, myself included, had an ulterior motive for going to the commission and it had nothing to do with his mea culpa to the nation, as he explained to the Commission.
How Agrizzi implicated me was a secret to even the Commission seemingly. I was not on the list of Bosasa beneficiaries he gave to the Commission and my attempts to establish if I was on the list of implicated persons he provided the Commission – to be telephoned on the Sunday before his Monday testimony – were fruitless. The Commission certainly didnt call me and the man who supposedly had the list of those to be contacted never responded to my emails.
By Tuesday morning I was at the Commission asking to cross examine Agrizzi and put my side forward. I wasn’t given that opportunity and was instead referred to the process that had to be followed in order to cross-examine a witness. Adriaan Basson of News24 who Agrizzi mentioned in recordings I published as the journalist who would turn-around Bosasa’s negative media reporting, was given an opportunity to clear his name. I will deal with what has transpired at the Commission in a follow-up article. The Zondo Commission has trampled on the rights of many of us who have been implicated. In a letter to the Commission, I explained the motive behind Aggrizi’s false claims against me – I had exposed his relationships with certain members of the media. I had also published information that he was selling his assets and was scheduled to take a “holiday” to Italy where he owns a home; one among many that he owns.
Much of the dossier confirms what we have written here; that Agrizzi had a fall-out with Gavin Watson, founder of Bosasa which later became African Global Operations (AGO), following the company’s discovery of mass looting by Agrizzi and a group of employees he had brought into the company. He signed a lucrative golden handshake but began making demands for taking-over some of the contracts which AGO operated and when he failed, hatched a hostile takeover of the company while also demanding to return on his terms, which included a huge salary and other perks. https://wp.me/p7OMJc-1SO
The Plot to Use Democratic Alliance & Media
The plot was to use the Democratic Alliance (DA) and media to force Watson to capitulate to his demands to take over the company. We published videos of the DA MPs Glynnis Bretenbach and Werner Horn at Aggrizi’s home and it comes as no surprise that DA Leader Mmusi Maimane has the letter and affidavit that he’s been waving at President Cyril Ramaphosa in Parliament https://wp.me/p7OMJc-1Yh. It is the affidavit by the former Bosasa auditor Peet Venter that led to the Public Protector’s findings that the President misled Parliament when he said he never received R500,000 from Bosasa.
The dossier published by Hogg, provided by Watson’s nephew Jared Watson, was to be presented at the SARS inquiry into Bosasa two days before the fatal crash that killed Watson.
Agrizzi’s Media Contacts
In recordings which we published here, Agrizzi mentions journalists with whom he had developed long-term relationships and who could help turn-around Bosasa’s misfortunes. In the first recording, littered with racist rants, he mentions Adriaan Basson, Derek Watts and two others. He mentions that such is their relationship with Basson, he even came to his house with his children on numerous occasions. Basson has denied these claims telling UnCensored that he had only been to Agrizzi’s once. https://wp.me/p7OMJc-1Yo
In a subsequent recording, in a meeting between Jarred Watson and former Chief Financial Officer Andries van Tonder, Basson is again mentioned as the key person to assist clean up the Bosasa image.
Basson and I have been at loggerheads over the Bosasa matter to a point that he and his white media cabal attacked me on Twitter with accusations that I was trying to destroy a good journalist and that I was being used by Bosasa. Another story which I will tell in a separate article or book.
The relationship between Basson and Agrizzi has once again emerged in the dossier published by BizNews. This time by way of an email purportedly from Basson to Agrizzi’s personal email seeking input or approval for a story he was writing. In his response, Basson says he cant remember if he did send the email but even if he did, he would not have done anything wrong – classical evasion. His response is below.
Jackie Cameron, writing for BizNews.com, said they “asked Basson for details about his relationship with Agrizzi. He refused to answer any direct questions, instead asking BizNews to publish a right to reply without any changes”.
Here are the twenty questions put to Basson and his right-of-reply
1. Can you confirm that you sent this email?
2. If so, why was it sent to Agrizzi’s private email address and how did you get this address?
3. What was the intention of sending this email to him?
4. Is this the only email of this nature you sent to Agrizzi?
5. Did you offer the parties being attacked the right of reply before publishing the article?
6. Have you ever changed details in an article prior to publication as a result of contact with Mr Agrizzi?
7. How often have you met Agrizzi in person? Where?
8. Have you ever been to Agrizzi’s home? How often? Have you ever been a passenger or driven one of his vehicles?
9. Has Agrizzi ever met any of your family members? If so, who? Where?
10. Has Agrizzi ever given you any gift or paid for a meal?
11. Did you ever ask Agrizzi how he accumulated his wealth? If so, what was his response? If not, why not?
12. How often have you used Agrizzi as a source for stories?
13. Do you usually send draft articles to sources prior to publication? Why?
14. How do you deal with responses from sources where you have sent an article to them prior to publication?
15. What is your organisation’s editorial policy where it comes to sending drafts of stories to sources and individuals and companies named in articles prior to publication?
16. “Agrizzi purports on numerous occasions that he has a close personal friendship with Basson since 2014.” What exactly is the nature of your association with Agrizzi?
17. You wrote that you “had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting Agrizzi a few times whilst covering the story for Beeld, the Mail & Guardian and later City Press. It was immediately clear to me that the brusque Italian was Watson’s henchman and in charge of doing his dirty work.” When and why did your relationship with Agrizzi change?
18. Is Agrizzi a source – named or unnamed – for your forthcoming book or any of your previous books?
19. Do you trust Agrizzi as a reliable source? Why? If not, why not?
20. Has Mr Agrizzi passed on documents and other information to you for use in your work for News24 or for your books?
Adriaan Basson: Right to reply
I am intrigued and perplexed by the recent actions of Alec Hogg, the editor/publisher/owner of Biznews, in relation to his “reporting” on Bosasa, a story which I have investigated since March 2006. Hogg righteously declares to his readers (who seem wholly unconvinced by his attempts to whitewash Gavin Watson’s legacy, judging by the comments on Biznews), that he stands for the truth and obeys the rules of his journalistic mentor Penelope Gracie to always get the “other side of the story”. Unless, it seems, the other side is something he doesn’t want to hear.
On Monday 23 September Hogg published a story that attempted to create the perception of an improper relationship between myself and Angelo Agrizzi, based on one leaked/hacked email I purportedly sent to Agrizzi in April 2016 of a draft story I wrote for News24. I cannot remember sending the email to Agrizzi, but even if I did, there is nothing to see here. It is not uncommon for journalists to show their stories to people who can comment on the veracity of facts in our reporting prior to publication. The final prerogative of what gets published always lies with the editor. If I sent a draft version of the story (that doesn’t deal with Bosasa or Agrizzi) to Agrizzi, the sole purpose would have been to invite comment on the veracity thereof.
I have never and will never take instructions from Agrizzi or anyone else to publish anything. Instead of peddling old lies to discredit my investigation of Bosasa and forthcoming book, that comprehensively deals with the history and modus operandi of the company, Biznews can read my evidence at the Zondo Commission, which is publicly available, if they want to know how I had approached Agrizzi.
Hogg’s approach to this story is peculiar. He didn’t seek my comment before publication. He also mis-presented my approach to him while researching my forthcoming book on what I consider to be Watson’s state capture cult called Bosasa. He misquoted me and inserted a private WhatsApp message between us into his article, without my permission. Would his mentor have approved of this? Then on Wednesday 25 September Hogg got his colleague Jackie Cameron to send me a list of 20 questions, after publication of the falsehoods, effectively asking me to break the golden rule of journalism: thou shalt protect thy sources. Biznews wants to know if Agrizzi was my source and what he told me. Good luck, Alec.
Smarter people have tried and failed to find out who my sources are. I recommend that Hogg and his colleagues take some time to study the judgment of Tsoka J in the matter of Bosasa Operations (Pty) Ltd v Basson, delivered in the South Gauteng High Court on 26 April 2012. The background to the case would interest you; Bosasa, then run by the powerful duo of Watson and Agrizzi, sued me for defamation while I worked on the Mail & Guardian. They took us to court and demanded that I reveal my sources who exposed their corrupt rigging of correctional services tenders. I refused and Judge Tsoka agreed with us. “[T]o order the defendants to reveal their sources would infringe their freedom of the press. Had it not been the defendants’ sources, the public’s right to know whether the plaintiff won the tender fairly would never have been known. The public would be poorer for it. The public interest will, in my view, be served by not revealing the identity of the defendants’ sources at this stage. The defendants have a valid objection to revealing their sources.”
Hogg is a Johnny-come-lately to the Bosasa story and Biznews is used to peddle a narrative that is simply not borne out by the facts. I don’t know what to call it, but it certainly isn’t journalism. I reserve my rights.
- Adriaan Basson is editor-in-chief at News24.