Gavin Watson Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma with the Watson family at the funeral of Gavin Watson. Photo: Raahil Sain / ANA

Zuma suggests circumstances around Watson’s death resemble assassination

Former president Jacob Zuma is concerned by the number of unanswered questions surrounding the death of late Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson.

Gavin Watson Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma with the Watson family at the funeral of Gavin Watson. Photo: Raahil Sain / ANA

Jacob Zuma’s prominent presence at the funeral of late Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson was always likely to cause at least some controversy and the former president did not disappoint in his eulogy for the Eastern Cape businessman.

The circumstances leading to Gavin Watson’s death

Watson was killed the week before when the car he was traveling in collided with a concrete pillar of a bridge on the road approaching OR Tambo International Airport.

The influential businessman has been in the news recently because of the testimony of Bosasa’s former COO Angelo Agrizzi at the state capture inquiry.

Agrizzi revealed that he was tasked with organising bribes in cash for former president Zuma, Cartier pens, a Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with banknotes for former South African Airways board chairwoman Dudu Myeni, and in the case of former water affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane, huge orders of food and drinks for Christmas.

“I know that comrade Gavin has died at a point when his name has been raised, and he was preparing to go to the commission to respond to a number of allegations that have been made against him so that he could clear some of the matters that needed to be cleared,” Zuma said in his eulogy.

Jacob Zuma

Due to appear before the state capture inquiry

Watson was due to appear before the state capture inquiry to give his own version of events before his untimely death which Zuma fears has some similarities to that of an assassination.

“Particularly, knowing as I do, how some intelligence organisations operate. I’m hoping that investigations will indeed prove us, who are worried, wrong,” he said.

“The reports that the family gave me have a number of gaps in the manner in which comrade Gavin was found and how he died. Since the investigation is still ongoing, I hope there will be a report that will satisfy all of us.

Jacob Zuma

Zuma finds the manner of the incident unsettling

During his speech at the funeral, the former president recounted an attempt on comrade Ronnie Kasrils in a hotel in Botswana during apartheid. He seemingly did so as an anecdote about how vital the work being done by ANC operatives in the Eastern Cape had been to the movement.

However, things took a significantly darker turn when he used the story to link the spate of political killings during that dark part of South Africa’s history and the death of Gavin Watson.

“I believed when we got our freedom in 1994 that we were past that chapter. It was now time to rebuild South Africa and I’m saying this because I’ve become very worried in the manner in which many comrades are dying these days,” Zuma said.

“There are comrades who have died very suddenly, who are seen to be some obstacle in one form of the other. Perhaps some time will come for some truths to come out.

“There are comrades who have left us very mysteriously and I hope Comrade Gavin has not become one of those that were cleverly removed from the scene.”

Jacob Zuma