Appearing before the Zondo commission on Thursday, 2 September, former environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane and her lawyers revealed that they request to cross-question former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi, who made multiple accusations of corrupt activities against Mokonyane.
On Monday, Mokonyane’s personal assistant, Sandy Thomas, took the stand to defend her boss on some allegations levelled against her.
She defended claims that Bosasa paid for her 40th birthday party after Agrizzi, who said he was present at the party, and the owner of the Victoria Guesthouse in Krugersdorp, Frederick Coetzee alleged that the party was held at the venue and was paid for by the company.
Although Mokonyane confessed that her 40th birthday celebration, not the 50th, was held at the venue, she disputed that Bosasa paid for the party.
This comes in light of Mokonyane’s previous statement where she said there was never a birthday party at the Victoria Guesthouse.
“I can confirm that as I said in my previous testimony here, that there has been several parties at that place and various meetings and upon reading Mr (Frederick Hendrik) Coetzee’s statement, I can then confirm that I went for a private dinner and not the ‘Break your leg’ birthday party that was said by Mr (Angelo) Agrizzi.
“I can confirm there was a dinner. It was not a party as it was said by Mr Agrizzi. It was a surprise thing that happened at the venue,” she said.
She said her evidence that there was never a party at the guesthouse was not misleading.
“I have no recollection of both [Former Bosasa CEO] Mr Gavin Watson and Mr Agrizzi being there at the party. I have no knowledge of how the party was planned as I was not part of the planning,” Mokonyane said.
“Maybe my husband knew or did not know that Bosasa paid for the dinner party. It was ensured that I just had to arrive at the party.
“In my view, none of us had paid for the party as he never told me who paid for the party.”
Coetzee earlier testified that before the function, Agrizzi asked for a meeting to inquire about hosting a function and also mentioned it would be for the then Safety and Security MEC in Gauteng, Mokonyane’s position at the time. Coetzee said Agrizzi told him Bosasa would pay for the bash.
The businessman also told Zondo that it was the first high-profile government function hosted by the guesthouse.
He said while they had initially planned to cater for a group of 80 guests, the number soon increased to 120. However, on the day of the function, the number rose to 174, said Coetzee.
During her testimony on Thursday, Mokonyane said the dinner was a “sitting arrangement”.
She added: “My accession was on break a leg, 50th party which I never had. My 50th party was about the journey of my life.”
Mokonyane also said there was no speaker from Bosasa at the dinner.
She said the plan was to have a private dinner as a family. “I got in there, there were people already. When the lights were switched on, people started singing ‘happy birthday’. It was a sit-down dinner.”
She also said she couldn’t identify Agrizzi at the venue.
“I mean he is white, I would have seen him. He would have been outstanding in the crowd.”
When asked about the number of people who attended the party, Mokonyane said: “I think there is a bit of confusion and exaggeration on his submissions.”
The former minister was also asked why she claimed that no birthday party was ever held at the guesthouse during her first appearance before the commission.
“I said that, as I have said chair, it is over a decade ago and what attracted my attention were the assertions made my Mr Agrizzi about a 50th birthday with a theme ‘Break your leg’, held at the Victorian.”
On her home’s security upgrades, the former minister told the commission that in her knowledge all security matters in her house were done through government.
“I don’t know of any security measures or CCTV installations which were done by Bosasa,” she said.
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