Pretoria - The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, yesterday ordered that former Bosasa whistle-blower Angelo Agrizzi would be able to attend his two upcoming criminal trials virtually.
This order followed an agreement between the State and the prosecution in this regard.
The court heard evidence from medical experts called by the Agrizzi camp that he is simply too ill to physically attend the trials at court.
Neurosurgeon Dr Herman Edeling earlier testified about Agrizzi’s medical condition. Edeling told the court that he had done a neurological examination of Agrizzi and concluded that he suffers from impaired brain function.
He was one of the witnesses who gave evidence in an inquiry prompted by the State to pave the way forward in the two criminal trials that Agrizzi is facing.
He has been absent from court appearances in those trials – which are still due to fully resume – since he landed in hospital in 2020.
His lawyer earlier told the court that Agrizzi spent about 49 days in ICU or in the high care unit of a hospital in 2020, and has since not been able to physically attend his trials in court.
Medical experts, including Edeling, expressed the opinion that Agrizzi was simply not able to attend his trials.
He virtually attended the inquiry at court over the past few days, near an oxygen tank and wearing an oxygen mask. The court had to adjourn on several occasions when it became clear that Agrizzi needed a break.
The inquiry was held in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act to establish whether Agrizzi was causing a delay in his criminal trials due to his own fault and whether his bail subsequently had to be invoked.
Advocate Manny Witz, who appeared for Agrizzi, made it clear that his client was not in a physical or mental condition to attend his trials in person. He also handed several reports to the court from medical practitioners who had set out Agrizzi’s condition. Witz argued that it was clear that Agrizzi’s failure to attend court was not his own fault.
He is dependent on an oxygen tank and, if he is forced to attend court, the necessary conditions to ensure his well-being cannot be met, Witz said.
This stance was also confirmed independently to the court by several of his doctors.
“It is our view that provision can be made for Mr Agrizzi to attend court virtually. He would need to be in his home environment, surrounded by his support staff and equipment that he uses daily.
“The duration of his attendance would need to be restricted to an hour or two hours with frequent breaks/intervals, a day at most,” Witz argued.
He stressed that prior to October 14, 2020, Agrizzi had attended court on each and every occasion and had given his full co-operation and assistance to the State. It was only after his health was severely affected that he could no longer physically attend his trials.
According to the doctors, Agrizzi has respiratory and neurological health issues.
The R1.8 billion fraud and corruption trial that Agrizzi faces, with his co-accused, was meanwhile provisionally postponed to July 20.