A neurosurgeon who examined former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi in March says he has memory failure and this makes him neurologically unfit to stand trial. File photo.
Image: Ernest Mabuza
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The inquiry into former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi’s fitness to stand trial was cut short as he became unconscious and fell during court proceedings he attended virtually from his home on Tuesday.

After Agrizzi became unconscious and fell at about 12.19pm, he was attended to by a paramedic at his home. The Pretoria high court case was adjourned until 2pm to determine if it is possible to continue with the inquiry. 

The court heard on the first day of the scheduled six-day inquiry that Agrizzi was neurologically not fit to stand trial. This was the conclusion made by neurosurgeon Dr Herman Edeling, who examined Agrizzi in March last year. 

The inquiry regarding Agrizzi’s failure to appear before court since he was charged in 2020 is in two parts. 

The first is an application by the state based on section 67 (2)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Act. The section provides that the court before which the matter is pending shall declare the bail provisionally cancelled and the bail money provisionally forfeited to the state, and issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused. 

Another is based on section 342A of the same act that empowers the court to investigate any delay in the completion of proceedings, which appears to be unreasonable and could inconvenience the accused, the state or a witness.

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Edeling said the first observation he made during his examination of Agrizzi was of his progressive mental fatigue.  

“While talking to me he became more and more tired.” 

Edeling said another observation was that there was a need for simplification, explanation and repetition of questions he put to Agrizzi.Only after that protracted process do you get an answer from him. That is an impairment of cognitive functions.” 

Edeling said Agrizzi drifted off-topic when answering a question put to him.  

“What this means is he has forgotten what the question was about.” 

Edeling said Agrizzi lost attention for no apparent reason. “He has memory failure.” 

Edeling also said Agrizzi’s mind focused on concrete things. The neurosurgeon said he had asked Agrizzi to write down about what was wrong with him. 

“He did not have a presence of mind to tell me about these things.” 

When Agrizzi's lawyer Daniel Witz asked Edeling about the cause of these, Edeling said: “Brain damage. Typical expression of brain damage, especially frontal lobe damage."

Edeling was asked to make observations of Agrizzi as he appeared on the screen. 

"Before the interruption, he was getting supplemental oxygen through nasal prongs.  

“I observed his mouth was open all the time. It means not enough oxygen goes into his lungs, I advised the caregiver to keep his mask on. That appears to me to be useful."

Agrizzi has not been able to attend court since October 2020 in one of the two cases he is facing, because of illness. 

In that case, Agrizzi was charged with corruption in connection with kickbacks worth R800,000 to former ANC MP Vincent Smith, allegedly received from Bosasa in exchange for his political influence and protection. 

In the tender fraud case, Agrizzi is co-accused alongside former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti, the department’s former CFO Patrick Gillingham and former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder.  


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