Pretoria - Former Bosasa whistle-blower Angelo Agrizzi has a cognitive brain injury that is currently stable, but he will not be able to meaningfully participate in his forthcoming criminal trials.
This is according to neurosurgeon Dr Herman Edeling, who yesterday testified about Agrizzi’s medical condition. Edeling told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that he had done a neurological examination of Agrizzi, and concluded that he suffers from impaired brain function.
Edeling is giving evidence in an inquiry prompted by the State, to pave the way forward in the two criminal trials 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, of which Edeling is part one, meanwhile expressed the opinion that Agrizzi was simply not able to mentally contribute to his trials.
He virtually attended an inquiry at court this week near an oxygen tank and wearing an oxygen mask.
Edeling said he found that Agrizzi had a hypoxic brain injury resulting from when he fell ill in October 2020.
There was a loss of oxygen to his brain at the time, which has resulted in the death of several cells in his brain.
According to Edeling this type of injury is not physically visible, but he detected it during his interviews and other examinations of Agrizzi.
He said that while Agrizzi definitely had brain damage, it was not as if he was mentally impaired to the extent that he was mentally ill.
He explained to the court that it was a cognitive impairment of the brain, which meant that it took a long time for Agrizzi to understand questions and what was happening in the moment.
Asked whether he thought Agrizzi should be referred to a mental institution for 30 days’ observation, which is usually done under these circumstances to establish whether an accused can understand and contribute to his or her criminal trial, Edeling said this would be of no use.
He said the issue was that Agrizzi is neurologically not fit to stand trial.