Monday, April 19, 2021

South Africa: Tycoon accused of bribing ex-President Jacob Zuma dies in car crash

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A controversial CEO of a South African corporation enmeshed in a top-level bribery scandal died today in a car crash, police and his company said.

Gavin Watson, 73, died when a car he was driving rammed into a concrete pillar, according to police.

Police did not mention him by name but said in a statement that he “allegedly lost control of his vehicle” near Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo international airport.

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Formerly an anti-apartheid hero, Watson’s name surfaced this year in an inquiry into entrenched state corruption.

Related: South Africa ex-president Jacob Zuma in court for corruption

According to allegations at an ongoing judicial probe, his company, formerly known as Bosasa, dished out monthly bribes to ex-president Jacob Zuma and some top state officials in exchange for lucrative government tenders.

Bosasa’s ex-chief operations officer, Angelo Agrizzi, told the inquiry in January this year that on one occasion Watson went to Zuma’s private home and “personally brought” him the money.

“He (Watson) said he personally delivered it to Jacob Zuma, put the bag next to him,” Agrizzi said.

The judiciary inquiry is investigating a web of murky deals involving government officials, the wealthy Gupta family and state-owned entities during Zuma’s nine-year tenure.

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Watson’s company has also been linked to a 500,000-rand (RM137,558) donation to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2017 campaign to head the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Local media say Watson had been due to testify before a tax inquiry tomorrow.

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