Pretoria - The assault trial of Alexis Bizos, son of stalwart human rights advocate George Bizos, who died last year, will now only resume next year in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court.
The trial of Bizos jr was due to start yesterday, but was postponed to February 23 after he opted to obtain a new legal team.
Bizos is facing a charge of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm following allegations that he had assaulted his estranged wife, Monique van Oosterhout.
AfriForum’s private prosecution unit is prosecuting the case after the National Prosecuting Authority earlier declined to prosecute Bizos.
Advocate Phyllis Vorster, prosecutor at the unit, will lead the evidence in the case on behalf of Van Oosterhout.
The private prosecution unit yesterday said that while they were ready to proceed, the case had to be postponed as Bizos, at the last minute and without any explanation, decided to appoint a new legal team.
The defence team also told the court that, although a trial date has been set, the accused’s counsel are involved in a judicial inquest into the Life Esidimeni tragedy, in which the Private Prosecution Unit is also involved as counsel for some of the victims’ families.
“The private prosecution unit was ready to proceed with the trial and has already consulted with witnesses. However, it appears that the accused is resorting to delaying tactics in the hope that this case will disappear,” Natasha Venter, an adviser at the prosecution unit, said.
She added that they would not allow this to happen, and their focus now is to ensure the trial will continue in February without any further delays.
“We acknowledge an accused’s right to the legal presentation of his choice, but this right cannot be used to unreasonably delay a case to the detriment of the victim and society at large,” she said.
Bizos allegedly assaulted Van Oosterhout in 2015 and is said to have broken six of her ribs. The NPA initially refused to prosecute him.
After AfriForum announced in 2018 that they had applied for a nolle prosequi (will no longer prosecute) certificate to prosecute Bizos, the NPA announced in a one-off decision that they would prosecute Bizos.