Blow by blow: Andries van Tonder has his day in court

The former Bosasa CFO revealed he and Angelo Agrizzi used a tractor to dispose of incriminating documents.

On Wednesday, former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder had his first full day at the Zondo commission, after appearing shortly the previous day, when he detailed the deterioration of his relationship with Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson

Van Tonder revealed that he took the video footage that had been played during former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi’s testimony, showing Watson’s walk-in cash vault. 

He said that Agrizzi and he received information that Watson would blame them for any illegal conduct, Agrizzi asked him to capture the footage. 

According to his testimony, when the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) started looking into the company in 2009, Bosasa executives made a pact not to expose each other. 

"It was agreed that there was a pact formed and everybody should abide by the rules of this pact in terms of not speaking to anybody about the wrongdoings in which we were implicated in the SIU report," Van Tonder said.

He added that Watson had reassured employees that everything was under control as he had access to influential people in government including the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority

Van Tonder further told the commission that he and Agrizzi were instructed by Watson to destroy invoices, purchase vehicles and homes, and arrange travel relating to government officials at Blake Travel

This included elaborate tax-avoidance schemes. He says the South African Revenue Services (SARS) conducted an investigation and the company managed to convince the revenue authority that the assessed loss was legitimate. 

“One day, Gavin Watson instructed me and Angelo to drive to Blake Travel, collect all incriminating documents relating to government officials and other important people, as well as all computers. It was in the middle of the SIU investigation and we had to collect evidence and destroy it,” said Van Tonder.

“We took boxes of invoices and computers, drove to an old mine hostel across from the Bosasa offices, used a tractor to drop loads of documents into a hole, poured fuel in and set everything alight. We later covered it with soil and built a concrete block over it.”

Van Tonder said Watson paid employees, including those who were not involved in the illegal activities, cash on a monthly basis for their silence.
 
He was paid R5000 which increased to R20 000 in cash, in addition to his salary, including paid vacation trips and car and house maintenance.

After the SIU’s report was released, Van Tonder said he was given various tasks, which included, but were not limited to, attending to concerns raised by banks and auditors, and to be vigilant of any potential incriminating documents, including invoices, that he came across. 

These included invoices for houses built for former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti and CFO Patrick Gillingham. Gillingham also received five vehicles and one for his daughter. 

He said the properties for Mti and Gillingham were accounted for in the books of Bosasa as if they were expenses or capital expenses for the company itself. They were also reflected to SARS in this way.

He also said that when the SIU began implicating key Bosasa employees in corruption, fraud and racketeering, consultant Danny Mansell asked Watson to arrange for him to emigrate to the United States. Van Tonder was instructed to accompany him, to ensure he did not return to South Africa. 

“The concern was that his passport might be blocked. Bosasa director Papa Leshabane made sure, through his contacts at home affairs, that customs officials did not block us. Danny was extremely stressed and had tears in his eyes.”