Apart from corruption - which would be obvious at a commission of inquiry into state capture - two of the remarkable themes to come from the marathon testimony of Angelo Agrizzi to the Zondo Commission this week and last week dealt with racism and the role of journalists.
There are some people who argue that, because Agrizzi is a confessed racist, his testimony should be taken with a pinch of salt or dismissed outright.
But just because he is racist, he should not forfeit his right to take the nation into his confidence about the many instances of corruption he witnessed at Bosasa, the company he served as chief operations officer not too long ago.
There are even people who argue that Agrizzi’s testimony at the Zondo Commission was driven by his hatred of black people, because he wanted to show how corrupt black political leaders were.
But what Agrizzi’s testimony showed is that it is not only black people who are corrupt. And it is not only politicians who are corrupt. As is the case in any corrupt relationship, the corruption involving Bosasa had the corrupted (in most cases politicians and public servants, black and white) and the corrupters (the mainly white bosses of Bosasa).
My feeling is that Agrizzi should be made to pay for his racism in the same way as people such as Penny Sparrow have been made to pay. He should be taken to court and held accountable. In the same way, he should account for the role he played in promoting a culture of corruption within government and the public service.
Those whom he mentioned as having benefited from the corruption, as well as those who aided and abetted the corruption, should also face criminal charges.
While it is relatively easy to deal with Agrizzi’s confessed racism, it is more difficult to deal with his claims that the company paid journalists for information and to write sympathetically about the company.
It is a pity that he claimed not to be able to remember the names of journalists who had been paid in this way.
Pinky Khoabane is not a journalist. At most, she is someone with an opinion. And Stephen Laufer stopped being a journalist many years ago. He is now a spin-doctor and has been for many years. And there are many journalists in the Eastern Cape who could go by the name of “Bongs”.
I am a strong believer in people having to account for things that they did wrong, but it is difficult for anyone to take any action with regard to the supposed journalists named by Agrizzi.
Journalists who accept money in return for writing positive stories on companies or individuals only serve to put more pressure on an industry that is already struggling with credibility issues.
But it is important to remember that, while the allegations of journalists being paid by Bosasa is probably true, it is highly likely that it is only a small group of journalists who allowed themselves to be manipulated in this manner. Most journalists I know are committed to their craft and do their work diligently despite and not because of the money they are being paid by their employers.
While Agrizzi’s testimony should not be dismissed completely because of his racism, one should also not believe every word he said. He should be subjected to proper court procedures where his motives could be exposed and the truth of his statements could be fully tested.
(First published as a Thinking Allowed column in the Weekend Argus on Saturday, 2 February 2019)