“Bosasa’s Gavin Watson is dies” was the first thing I saw about the event sent conspiracy theories flying around about the death of the ANC donor turned State Capture superstar.
A twitter search backed this up as increasingly more reports were streaming in about the high-speed death of one of the most controversial names in South Africa, a man who was due to testify at a tax inquiry just 24 hours after his fatal accident. This inquiry was due to investigate allegations that Watson had funnelled and estimated R500 million out of South Africa to short-change SARS.
Looking for more details I quickly realized that this was going to become a story that would have many beginnings, middles and ending as the tweets started to pop up naming it – Brett Kebble 2.0?
I guess it is inevitable – there are blatant similarities between the two men who were older, white and rich with long-standing ties of generosity that bound then to the African National Congress. However along the long road to freedom, both had strayed off the straight and narrow path into greed and deception and were having to face the consequences in court.
The Death of Brett Kebble
Brett Kebble, mining magnate and arts patron was shot dead near a bridge over the M1 Abbotsford, Johannesburg at around 9 p.m. on 27 September 2005 while driving to a dinner engagement. An autopsy performed three days after the murder found that the bullets were a rare, ‘low-velocity’ type used by bodyguards and security operatives.
On 16 November 2006 businessman Glenn Agliotti was arrested in connection with the murder of Brett Kebble. Agliotti was a convicted drug-dealer. However, in November 2010 Agliotti was acquitted when the court ruled that the state had not made a prima facie case against him.
Gavin Watson’s violent death at a National Keypoint (Oliver Tambo Airport) in the only spot with no camera coverage is getting tongues wagging. (Especially as it seems like Bosasa had been doing the security/cameras for years)
Questions Raised about Gavin Watson’s Death
Some of the main questions being asked about Gavin Watson’s high speed crash are:
- Where was he going at 5 o clock in the morning turning off to the airport?
- Why are there no skid marks or braking marks on the road that lead to his destroyed Toyota?
- In fact, why was Watson driving a manual Toyota when Former Bosasa fleet manager Frans Vorster says Watson could only drive automatic cars?
- It is understood the vehicle collided with the pillar of a bridge on the road leading up to the drop-off point at OR Tambo International Airport. Was he conscious when he hit the pillar; was he run off the road, did he have a stroke – where was he going and why so fast?
There was no luggage in the car, only R70 in his wallet and no cellphone. Police found his ID card and driver’s license on the scene
The Toyota Corolla was ripped apart, the engine burst open and the front right axle was torn clean off the car from the force of the impact. Photographs of the vehicle, which is registered to Bosasa, show that Watson was probably not wearing his seat belt. It was tucked in behind his body, the clasp clicked into the buckle to stop the inevitable and annoying beep of the on-board computer.
In the wake of Watson’s demise, images from the crime scene have proliferated in the realm of social media – giving rise to internet sleuths and even more conspiracy theories.
Brave Anti-Apartheid Activist
The ANC is mourning Gavin Watson as a “brave anti-apartheid activist who, together with his brothers, “associated themselves with the struggle for liberation at an early age and fought side by side with many compatriots against apartheid”.
In the 1970s, Gavin and his three younger brothers played rugby with black people in the Eastern Cape when segregation was at its peak.
Watson and his brothers were well-known within the United Democratic Front (UDF) as well as the ANC underground during apartheid.
Simplify the Job of the NPA
The death of Gavin Watson should make it easier for NPA head, Shamila Batohi and her crew in the corruption prosecutions. These may arise in the wake of evidence by former Bosasa (now called African Global Operations or AGO) employee Angelo Agrizzi to the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture.
During Agrizzi’s testimony, Watson was painted as the key figure in a nearly two-decade-long scheme that involved paying numerous bribes to government officials and political leaders in exchange for lucrative government contracts and favours.
We heard and saw Agrizzi – much of his testimony was hearsay. I guess with Gavin Watson out of the way, many politicians and officials who were implicated will sleep a bit better at night.
One day After the Crash
So here we stand, one day after the death of a controversial man, lauded with praise and respect for his past and tainted with bribes and corruption for his present life.
Nevertheless he was said to be a very religious man who made a point of reading from the Bible and praying at company meetings and events. He held prayer meetings at Bosasa every morning from 06:00 to 08:00.
We will know more when the accident investigators complete their work and the autopsy results are in. In line with procedure, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has said that a case of ‘culpable homicide’ has been opened.
Well, the Brett Kebble comparison was one of the first to pop up. This wasn’t helped by his former sidekick Agrizzi speculating that it is ”very plausible” that his recently deceased former boss Gavin Watson may have been trying to flee the country when he died on Monday.
At this moment his fatal crash looks like it could be an accident or suicide. It doesn’t seem like there have been any reports of cars running him off the road. But questions remain, why was he heading for the airport at high speed with no luggage at five in the morning. Were there any flight tickets reserved by him?
Some are venturing that this is a warning to all who testify at the Sate Capture Inquiry and may intimidate witnesses.
People are asking if the mangled body is actually his? Something that will easily be identified via DNA and dental records, but meantime it is a good story. (Those who promote this theory also believe Brett Kebble is sitting on an island somewhere sipping cocktails). Mandy Wiener wrote a great Column today – Mandy Wiener: Gavin Watson’s death – Brett Kebble 2.0?
We often forget that behind the larger than life personas of these highly visible people are husbands and dads and grandpas and friends who have been left behind mourning. For the sake of the family I hope this sad death has a quick and clean resolution.
Final Note – The family of Gavin Watson wants an independent inquiry into the crash that killed him and have appointed accident reconstruction expert.