OPINION | Lots one can do with ‘monopoly money’
In the grip of Angelo Agrizzi for the past three weeks, I have found myself agonising about money. Specifically, how I would spend the loot that Agrizzi alleges he and former colleagues at African Global Operations have been dishing out for more than 10 years to favoured politicians and officials.
This week he told the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that Bosasa, as African Global Operations used to be known, has been paying hundreds of thousands of rand every month to about 40 people, including Jacob Zuma, former SAA chair Dudu Myeni, communications minister Nomvula Mokonyane and deputy national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Nomgcobo Jiba. Zuma allegedly received an initial instalment of R300,000, stuffed in a Louis Vuitton bag that was handed over to Myeni.
Imagine that I’m now a corrupt politician or official who is being paid by thugs to help them steal as much money as they possibly can from the very people I swore to serve and to protect. Seeing the amounts allegedly given to the three journalists named are so insulting (Agrizzi says R71,000 was to be shared between five people), I would rather put myself in the shoes of Jiba, who Agrizzi alleged was paid R100,000 in cash every month. Tax free. No deductions. Cold, hard, dirty cash straight into your Louis Vuitton bag.
Jiba already gets about R2m annually as deputy NDPP. Then there’s that nasty tax deduction, a bite of about 40%.
So, what would I do with R100,000 a month in cash that cannot be deposited into a bank account? The first thing would be to buy two huge, strong, waterproof and fireproof safes in which to store the cash. I’d need one for my residence in Johannesburg and the other for my ancestral home in Pondoland on the Wild Coast. I’ve just noticed a rather attractive SentrySafe priced at just over R19,000.
Instant cattle baron
Each time Agrizzi pays up, I’d make a trip to Elliot, Ugie and Barkly East in the Eastern Cape to buy cattle. In these lean times the farmers would not ask many questions about the origins of the cash.
And I would select the finest Nguni cows money can buy, and transport them to my village in the Mtakatye valley near Presley’s Bay. The highest-paid herder in the whole province would be hired to look after my loot.
But since many of my neighbours also keep livestock, the grazing is already challenged here. So after only two cattle-buying expeditions I would already be looking for new ways to spend Agrizzi’s dirty money.
Perhaps I would develop a taste for the finer things in life, such as Gucci bags and shoes. I would patronise the best hotels, bars and restaurants. My humble civil servant friends would die of jealousy.
My nine-year-old would get R500 to spend at the school tuckshop every day. Why not, since it wouldn’t be possible to pay the fees at the children’s expensive private schools with this money whose origins I can’t exactly discuss. As you can see, I’m at my wits’ end trying to find ways to spend my loot without raising suspicion. Which makes you wonder how so many crooks have been able to live large with illicit money for so long.
Oops! I almost forgot, I’m also the top prosecutor...