The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has noted statements attributed to former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi in his testimony at the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture yesterday, which mainly focused on the in-depth relationship between Bosasa and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).
In his testimonial, Mr Agrizzi stated that there was in 2007 a meeting held which included the presence of a person by the name “Sbu”, who is purportedly said to have been the General Secretary of our union POPCRU; a meeting within which details towards convincing the then newly appointed National Commissioner of the DCS Vernie Petersen to be obedient and cooperative to Bosasa demands were discussed, with those to mediate this process being promised a sum of R1 million on a monthly basis.
We do not take these allegations lightly, but want to categorically state that since its inception, there has never been any POPCRU office-bearer by the name “Sbu”, nor Sibusiso or any other similar name.
We are equally interested in getting clearer details around this person whom it is claimed represented POPCRU as its General Secretary.
We are not and can never be deterred by individuals who would falsely claim to be POPCRU leaders and bargain for their narrow self-interests by falsely claiming to have secured buy-in from our union as having endorsed these malpractices that have paralysed the DCS. If anything, these are fabricated falsehoods since at the said time it was widely known that POPCRU was a critic of the direction the DCS was taking.
To set the record straight, it was POPCRU who at the time this meeting is purported to have taken place exposed the relationship between Bosasa, Phezulu Fencing and Sondolo IT. They all had a similar address.
It was during that tenure where workshops producing furniture and uniforms for correctional officials were closed in Witbank and elsewhere across the country, and correctional centres no longer became self-sufficient through the production of food products. We were the first to lift the lid on the tenderisation irregularities within the DCS. We ran an expose on the media, in particular in the City Press on consistent Sundays to highlight the levels of corruption taking place, and for that, there was a bloodbath of job losses due to postures we took against Bosasa and the DCS. Many of our members were suspended, and over 540 were dismissed.
Upon reinstatement, POPCRU has since then had to fork out an amount of R2, 1 million for these employees’ pension contributions for the period that they were dismissed
We have been consistent over the years in condemning privatisation since the introduction of private prisons and continued to oppose any form of considering the unnecessary privatisation of catering in Correctional services when Bosasa was brought in to loot the DCS.
It is historically recorded that we have consistently called press conferences and made submissions to parliamentary portfolios on the problematic relationship between Bosasa and the DCS, and have since 2009 been calling for the Special Investigative Unit’s (SIU) findings to be released.
At our last CEC in 2018 November, we made a plea to the state President to speedily look into Bosasa and Sondolo IT since they had been making government a cash cow for the longest term, and this has been a consistent call because of our firm belief that while the core mandate of the DCS dilapidates, much priority has been put on tenderisation rewards.
We distance our union and its officials from such allegations and will not be defocused from continuing to expose the malpractices that have over the years entrenched themselves within the DCS because we maintain that it has drastically deviated from its core mandate.
We reiterate that all those implicated should be brought to book, and most importantly that our correctional centres should be self-sufficient; a process that will ensure inmates do not lie idle but produce their own food and manufacture furniture and clothing. This will not only reduce the 85% reoffending rate but will ensure rehabilitation. These can only be achieved by stopping all tenders in the service.
Issued by POPCRU on 23/01/2019