Nomvula Mokonyane told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry that she did have a I private dinner to celebrate her birthday but it was definitely not “a break your leg”. As to who paid for it, she claims she doesn’t know.
State capture inquiry: Mokonyane recalls 40th birthday party, but unsure who funded it
By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published 21m ago
Johannesburg – Former environmental affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane has backtracked on her previous testimony at the Zondo commission regarding her Bosasa sponsored 40th birthday party held at a guesthouse in Krugersdorp in 2003.
Mokonyane appeared at the inquiry on Thursday. She had previously appeared in July, but following testimony from witnesses, she has been called back to explain the contradictions in her evidence.
Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi testified last year at the inquiry that Bosasa had paid for Mokonyane’s 50th birthday bash which was themed “Break a Leg” at a Krugersdorp guesthouse.
Agrizzi later corrected his evidence to state that it was, in fact, a 40th birthday party.
Mokonyane had denied that Bosasa had hosted a party for her on any occasion when she appeared in July.
The owner of Krugersdorp-based Victorian Guest House, Frederick Hendrik Coetzee, appeared after Mokonyane and told the inquiry that his guesthouse had hosted a 40th birthday celebration for Mokonyane in 2003 which was paid for by Bosasa.
Coetzee said he was approached by Agrizzi to host a birthday party in June 2003. He said he was told that the event was for Mokonyane and that Bosasa would provide for the costs of the party.
Coetzee provided the commission with invoices which showed that he had invoiced Bosasa and Agrizzi for the expense of the celebration which was R41 000.
When she was confronted by the commission’s evidence leader and Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on the contradictions, Mokonyane backtracked and admitted that she had attended a birthday celebration dinner at Victorian Guest House.
She blamed the confusion, on her first denying that she had ever attended a party at the venue, on Agrizzi saying he had first stated that it was a 50th birthday party, but later corrected himself.
Mokonyane said when she saw Coetzee’s evidence she recalled that she had attended a surprise birthday dinner for her 40th birthday which was supposed to be a family dinner but turned into a party.
“Upon reading the statement, I can confirm that I went for a private dinner and not a break your leg. I can confirm there was a dinner, it was not a party as said by Mr Agrizzi. It was a surprise thing at the venue and it was not my 50th birthday.
“I live in Krugersdorp and that venue is closer to where we live. It has been used for several other activities. We left home with an understanding that we were having a private dinner. Upon arrival there were people and some were my friends. I could not identify Mr Agrizzi there. It was a sit-down dinner and over a decade ago. There were people who spoke and there was no speaker from Bosasa. There was no Agrizzi who spoke,” Mokonyane insisted.
Mokonyane insisted after she was shown the transcript of what she said in her previous testimony, that she only denied ever having a party at the guesthouse because of Agrizzi mentioning that it was a 50th birthday party.
“I had gone there for a dinner, I had not planned it. It turned out to be a dinner with many other people there. When I testified I was preoccupied with my 50th birthday that was framed as ‘break your leg’. I just said there were many other parties that were held at the Victorian Guest House,” she said.
Zondo appeared unconvinced by Mokonyane’s answer and pressed her further on her change in evidence.
“Somebody might say that it cannot be true that you can remember that other parties were held at the venue, but you could not remember that your birthday was held there. Somebody may say that it was not convenient for you to remember your 40th birthday because it would give credence to Agrizzi’s evidence that there was this special relationship between yourself and Bosasa or between yourself and Gavin Watson,” Zondo asked.
“I walked into these chambers and the whole world was focused on my 50th birthday called ‘break a leg’. I had to say there was no 50th birthday called ‘break a leg’ which was my 50th birthday. For me chair, that is where I am,” she said.
On who paid for the party, Mokonyane said she does not know whether Bosasa paid for the party. She said all she was told by her husband was to be ready on that evening for a birthday dinner.
She said she was unsure whether her husband, Serge Mokonyane, knew of Bosasa’s involvement in paying for the party.
Mokonyane’s lack of knowledge on who financed the party was unconvincing and concerned Zondo who questioned her on why she never inquired about who had paid for the party.
Zondo asked; “One of you must have known. If you say you didn’t know than your late husband must have known.
Mokonyane; “He might have been approached to say we have organised this and please make sure you bring her along. He might have known or he may have not known”.
Zondo questioned Mokonyane further; “I can understand him (her husband) not telling you on the day, but I would have expected him to tell you after that the real people who made it possible was Mr Gavin Watson
Mokonyane: “We never ventured into that. We both knew we did not pay for the party. We did not organise it”.
Mokonyane has concluded her evidence.