Johannesburg – the former lead investigator in the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) probe has told the Zondo commission that it was "incomprehensible" why it took 10 years for authorities to start arrest in connection with the corrupt activity in the company.
Clinton Oellermann was the lead researcher in the SIU's two-year investigation into Bosasa which began in 2007 and ended in 2009.
The USA was ordered by presidential announcement to investigate allegations of corruption associated with tendering contracts awarded by the corrective services department to the facilities management company.
The report was given to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) in 2009 and highlighted corrupt activity equivalent to billions of races associated with the tenders. The Hawks only made arrests this year about the report. Several former officials appeared Bosasa including his former COO Angelo Agrizzi in the commercial crime court.
Former correctional officers Patrick Gillingham and Linda Mti were also charged with bail.
The evidence leader, Paul Pretorius, asked Oellermann for his views on why it took a decade for authorities to act. Oellermann said that he could not find any reasonable explanation why he would have taken the case for 10 years to court.
He said he could understand whether more evidence was needed, but 10 years was far too long.
“It's unique that an issue has taken this time to get to court,” says Oellermann.
Oellermann also told the commission that the Bosasa, now known as African Global Operations, had brought litigation against the SIU to prevent the whole investigation of the unit.
As a result, the investigation of the unit was largely affected. This was partly because the US chiefs had decided to strike a deal with Bosasa which led to the unit agreeing not to interview officials from Bosasa including directors and Chief Executive Gavin Watson.
Oellermann said that his heads had made the decision and that the investigation had been curtailed as officers could not be interviewed.
The SIU investigation was completed before this legal litigation was completed.
The chairman of the chief commissioner, Raymond Zonodo, asked Oellermann why Watson's name was never mentioned in the SIU inquiry. Oellermann explained that he was unable to interview him because of the legal litigation.
He also said that the evidence against Watson was largely hearsay and that witnesses interviewed mentioned that Watson often kept his hands from the proceedings.
Oellermann said during their investigation into Bosasa, they had found evidence of other suspicious contracts awarded to Bosasa. These tenders related to the home affairs department and the South Africa Airport Company.
Oellermann was asked if any action was being taken in relation to the report when it was given to the NPA and the department of correctional services. He said the only remedial action was the disciplinary case against Gillingham.
He said the disciplinary hearing was later canceled after Gillingham resigned.
"We published the report to the department and made a number of conclusions and recommendations and, apart from established disciplinary proceedings (Gillingham), I am not aware of any further recommendations implemented by the department, t "said Oellermann.
The investigation is ongoing.