August 26, 2019 / 2:19 PM / 24 days ago

CEO of South Africa firm linked to graft allegations killed in car crash

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - The CEO of a South African services firm linked to graft allegations and a controversial donation to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to lead the governing African National Congress has died in a car accident, his family said on Monday.

The family confirmed local media reports that Gavin Watson, the chief executive officer of facilities management company African Global Holdings, formerly Bosasa, was killed in a car crash near Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport.

“We thought it prudent that we come here and confirm that this is the situation,” Papa Leshabane, a spokesman for the family and African Global Holdings, told eNCA television.

Police spokeswoman Katlego Mogale said a case of culpable homicide was opened after “a 73-year- old man was involved in an accident”.

“It is reported that the man was driving into the airport precinct, when he allegedly lost control of his vehicle and collided with a concrete pillar holding up a highway bridge,” Mogale said, without mentioning Watson by name.

African Global came under fire early this year after its former chief operating officer, Angelo Agrizzi, told an anti-graft judicial inquiry in January he and others bribed politicians and bureaucrats to secure government contracts for his company.

Watson was yet to testify at the inquiry.

Watson also gave a 500,000 rand ($32,815) donation to Ramaphosa’s 2017 campaign to succeed Jacob Zuma as head of the ANC.

South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog in July said Ramaphosa “deliberately misled” parliament about the donation to his son, Andile, by Watson, and that he had violated the executive ethics code in regard to the donation.

Ramaphosa had initially told parliament that the money was obtained for services his son provided, but he later amended this by saying the payment was a donation towards his campaign.

Ramaphosa is seeking a judicial review of what he described as a flawed report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The saga has proven a headache for the president, who has staked his reputation on cleaning up institutionalized corruption, providing ammunition for his critics including an ANC faction loyal to Zuma.

($1 = 15.2369 rand)

Reporting by Onke Ngcuka; editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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