Zondo Asks S. Africa Agencies to Probe Prison-Food Tenders

(Bloomberg) -- The head of a judicial panel probing corruption in South Africa directed the authorities to investigate allegations that almost 1 billion rand ($75 million) was paid to services company Bosasa to provide catering in the nation’s prisons without it doing the requisite work.

“There was no labor from Bosasa, it was the inmates that cooked,” Dennis Bloem, who chaired parliament’s portfolio committee on correctional services from 2004 to 2009 while he was a member of the ruling African National Congress, told the panel Friday. “The only thing that Bosasa was doing was to give inmates a certificate for training.”

The commission of inquiry headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was set up to probe the looting of taxpayer funds during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure. In January, Angelo Agrizzi, who served as Bosasa’s chief operating officer from 1999 to 2016, revealed how the company paid politicians and officials bribes to secure contracts and avoid prosecution.

One of Bosasa’s catering tenders that was awarded in July 2004 ran for three years and was worth 240 million rand a year, said Bloem, now a member of the Congress of the People, a small opposition party.

If Bloem’s testimony is true, “then the Department of Correctional Services was paying Bosasa millions of rands for absolutely nothing or very little,’’ Zondo said.

The Department of Correctional Services is reviewing its contracts with Bosasa, Justice Minister Michael Masutha told reporters in Pretoria, the capital.

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