Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi on one of the screens installed in the Pretoria high court on Wednesday. He was supposed to appear virtually but the case was postponed indefinitely.
Image: Ernest Mabuza
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The Pretoria high court’s inquiry into former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi’s absence from court over the past two years and the ensuing delays was postponed indefinitely on Wednesday. 

The inquiry was set down to run for three days starting on Tuesday. However, the inquiry was postponed on Tuesday after the state objected to court proceedings without the presence of Agrizzi in court. 

The inquiry concerned Agrizzi’s failure to appear in two court cases since October 2020 because of ill health.

In one tender fraud case, Agrizzi is co-accused alongside former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti, the departments former CFO Patrick Gillingham and former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder. In the second case, Agrizzi faces charges of corruption in connection with R800,000 worth of kickbacks for former ANC MP Vincent Smith, allegedly received from Bosasa in exchange for his political influence and protection.

On Tuesday judge David Makhoba postponed the case until Wednesday to allow for Agrizzi to appear virtually and informed the state and Agrizzi’s lawyers that the case should be completed within the allocated time. 

Before the matter resumed on Wednesday morning, Agrizzi was ready to appear remotely and there were a number of screens in court for his appearance.

Makhoba inquired from Agrizzi’s advocate Mannie Witz if the matter was ready to proceed.

Witz told the court the defence intended to call two witnesses, neurosurgeon Dr Herman Edeling and neuropsychologist Trevor Reynolds. Witz said Edeling would only be available from noon on Wednesday.

Witz also said Agrizzi would indicate to his team if he was not ready to proceed with the case, due to his health.

“With regard to his medical and health condition I cannot say how long he will be available. He will indicate when he is fatigued. He is with his nurse and is on oxygen,” Witz said.

Makhoba raised concerns that the case could not be completed within the allocated time.

After hearing submissions from the state and Witz, Makhoba postponed the case indefinitely and asked lawyers for the state and Agrizzi to approach Gauteng deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba to arrange for a new court date. 

Makhoba said after the inquiry was set down by Ledwaba in December last year to run from March 7 to 9, there had been hiccups and delays since the start on Tuesday. 

“I had started hearing the matter on (Tuesday) when all of a sudden and to my surprise, the state objected to proceedings due to the absence of Mr Agrizzi,” Makhoba said. 

He said when the matter was postponed on Tuesday, he had asked Witz to establish whether Agrizzi would be available until 4pm. 

“I was trying to avoid the stop-and-go’s. There were other conditions, which have not been properly complied with. One was the availability for the entire day of Mr Agrizzi. He said, through his lawyer, ‘I will try’.” 

Makhoba said he was also not sure whether the witness would be available at the indicated time on Wednesday. He said the court would only have two hours after lunchtime on Wednesday.

“This witness must be cross-examined. We know things can happen.”   

In addition to two defence witnesses, the state had indicated it would also call a witness. There were also oral submissions to be made by both parties after the evidence from the three witnesses. 

“There are questions of law that will be raised during the course of the hearing. Then there is a question of whether I should proceed with the matter if I cannot finish, that I can part-hear it.” 

Makhoba said this was an inquiry, as directed by Ledwaba, and he could not strong-arm everybody to talk fast and not waste time. 

“Things do not work like that in the high court. If Mr Agrizzi says he is tired after two hours, I am not a medical practitioner and I will postpone the matter. In my view, a week will suffice to hear the matter taking any eventuality into account.  

“I am of the view the matter is not ripe for hearing in this court because of time already lost.” 

After the postponement of the case, the lawyers approached the office of the deputy judge president to see if a new court date could be arranged.


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