AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Court to hear whether Angelo Agrizzi should be tried separately in R1.8bn corruption case
Because of numerous delays, Judge David Makhoba has asked that Angelo Agrizzi’s R1.8bn corruption trial be held separately from that of his three co-accused. The State and defence will present their arguments on the separation of the trials on Friday, 1 December.
The Pretoria High Court was on Thursday due to hear a report on the mental fitness of former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi to stand trial in a R1.8-billion fraud and corruption case.
Agrizzi is charged alongside former Department of Correctional Services commissioner Lindi Mti, former Correctional Services chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham and former Bosasa chief financial officer Andries van Tonder.
However, the court heard the report was not yet complete, while Mti, who is in hospital, did not appear. Agrizzi was not in court on Thursday after Judge David Makhoba ordered that he attend his fraud and corruption trial virtually.
Because of the delays, Makhoba asked that Agrizzi’s trial be held separately from that of his co-accused under section 157 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The State and defence will present their arguments on the separation of the trials on Friday, 1 December.
Mannie Witz, Agrizzi’s lawyer, told Daily Maverick, “The defence will be opposing the splitting of the trial. I’m representing Agrizzi and Van Tonder. If the trial is separated it means when Van Tonder has, for example, to testify against Agrizzi I won’t be able to cross-examine him.”
The case against Agrizzi and his co-accused relates to four tenders awarded to Bosasa and its subsidiaries between August 2004 and 2007. The tenders were for rendering catering and training services, installing CCTV cameras and perimeter fencing and supplying a television system and monitoring equipment.
The four were arrested by the Hawks on allegations of corruption in February 2019.
Agrizzi is accused alongside former ANC MP Vincent Smith in a separate corruption and fraud case.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Angelo Agrizzi’s loan of over R600,000 to ANC MP Vincent Smith interrogated at State Capture inquiry
In July 2021 the Specialised Commercial Court sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrates’ Court granted the State’s application for Agrizzi and Smith to be tried separately.
Agrizzi had a heart attack in October 2020 and was in intensive care at the Life Fourways Hospital until 7 December 2020.
In March this year, pulmonologist Dr Muhammad Chohan diagnosed Agrizzi with diabetes, hypertension, obesity, acute renal failure and liver dysfunction. He said Agrizzi was mechanically ventilated and sedated, but was conscious and on dialysis.
Agrizzi’s mental fitness
In May, neurosurgeon Dr Herman Edeling, who performed a neurological examination on Agrizzi, told the court that Agrizzi’s brain function was impaired.
On 28 September, Judge Makhoba ruled that professionals should decide whether Agrizzi was mentally fit to stand trial.
The matter was postponed to 31 October for a report on Agrizzi’s mental fitness. However, the matter was again postponed because the assessment was not complete. DM