Angelo Agrizzi: ‘I’m room-bound, my life has been ruined’

FORMER Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi testifies before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry. l FILE

FORMER Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi testifies before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry. l FILE

Published Aug 7, 2022


DESPITE being declared medically unfit to attend court, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is adamant that Angelo Agrizzi, who this week emotionally opened up about his ailing health, have his day in court.

In leaked medical reports, exclusively obtained by Weekend Argus, the erstwhile Bosasa chief operating officer, who is facing a myriad charges of corruption and fraud, is deemed unfit to attend court. Both Agrizzi’s doctor and that of the state were singing the same tune.

One of the cases relates to R800 000 worth of kickbacks former ANC MP Vincent Smith allegedly received from Bosasa in exchange for his political influence and protection.

The other case involves suspected prison tenders, estimated to be worth R1.8 billion, Bosasa and its subsidiaries allegedly received.

However, the cases against Smith and Agrizzi were separated due to Agrizzi's ill health.

According to the medical reports, Agrizzi, was diagnosed with severe obesity.

“(He suffers) from hypoventilation syndrome (a disorder that affects normal breathing) due to class III obesity confirmed on polysomnography and is currently on bilevel positive airway pressure at home,” read one of the reports, compiled by Dr Emmanuel Malish Taban.

Taban is the medical expert appointed by the NPA’s investigative directorate.

“In our opinion Mr Agrizzi is not fit to attend court in person because he is on domicillary oxygen… presence of anxiety attack can precipitate the underlying condition such as hypertension, type II DM and respiratory failure,” read Taban’s report.

In other leaked documents depicting the full medical history of Agrizzi, the NPA was informed by Agrizzi’s medical doctor, Dr Muhammed Chohan, that he was “severely ill”.

“I reviewed Angelo in my rooms recently (and) his status is as follows: Oxygen dependency is ongoing with use of nine litre at home per minute and a portable device at 6l when he is leaving home,” read Chohan’s report from October.

“He cannot walk a distance greater than 50m without oxygen… A recent arterial blood gas (a test measuring oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in one’s blood) of oxygen confirms hypoxaemia and hypercarbia (an increase in carbon dioxide in the bloodstream) at rest.”

Chohan conceded, in the same report, that Agrizzi’s weight was unchanged and that plans for weight-loss surgery were thwarted.

“(This as) the surgical team find him too high a risk.”

In another report, Chohan said: “With regard to standing trial and the rigorous schedule this entails, he is medically unfit.”

Agrizzi’s lawyer, Daniel Witz, confirmed the authenticity of the documents.

“I can confirm that he is not fit for court proceedings and in regards to the actual case(s), the merits in that are not relevant… We are only dealing with the medical evidence,” he said.

Agrizzi told Weekend Argus he was shocked that his medical records were leaked.

“How did you get this letter? Because that’s personal information. But yes, in regards to your question, my health is not good at all; my health is shocking,” Agrizzi said.

“We’ve been battling for two years now. It’s bad, it’s really bad – I haven’t been able to attend court, ‘cause I can’t get to court. My doctors said I can’t go,” he said.

He said his ailing health and the cases against him changed his life completely.

“I can’t work anymore, my life has been ruined,” he said.

“I’m room-bound, I can’t go out, I haven’t been out of my property for two years … I’ve got a full time nurse and an aide.”

He said since he blew the whistle, his life has never been the same.

“I guess that’s what’s happens when you out politicians… I’ve been attacked on all angles from everywhere,” he said, adding that he was poisoned too.

“My health was fine before that, it just got worse and worse… They’ve attacked all the whistle-blowers.”

He also said he waited a year and a half for the state to appoint its own doctor.

Weekend Argus also obtained a full email trail showing the NPA’s correspondence with Agrizzi’s legal team.

Spokesperson for the NPA’s Investigative Directorate, Sindisiwe Seboka, said she couldn’t speak on someone’s medical history.

“I cannot confirm an accused’s assumed personal medical information,” she said.

“His attorney is best placed to do so. Lest we, the state, be accused of divulging private and confidential information.”

Witz confirmed that Taban’s medical report was not yet filed in court, but would be at Agrizzi’s next appearance.

The 54-year-old has two cases scheduled to sit on October 3 and 4. The last time he was seen in court was two years ago.

Last month, the NPA stated they intended to lodge an “unreasonable delay” application against Agrizzi in the R1.8bn Bosasa corruption matter.

This after he was absent from court where a warrant of arrest was issued, but held over.

Lawyer and legal expert, Ulrich Roux, said the final decision on an accused’s ability to stand trial resided with the presiding judge.

“For him to evade going to trial, there will have to be an assessment made by the presiding officer on the medical records and if the magistrate or judge finds it does preclude him from going to trial, then they would declare that it’s a valid reason for them not to proceed,” Roux said.

Roux added that it won’t be indefinite.

“It’s very seldom that you see charges being withdrawn because a person cannot stand trial.”

The third instalment of the report into state capture honed in on Bosasa’s scandals which implicated former and current cabinet ministers, as well as former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni and former president Jacob Zuma, as having benefited from the company.