Move to consolidate Fidentia charges

An application is to be brought before the Cape High Court for all charges in the massive Fidentia investigation to be consolidated into one case, before one court, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Monday.

The first of the three embezzlement cases involving former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown and the investment companies Fundi and Infinity was scheduled to have started in the Cape Regional Court on Monday, but was instead postponed to December 10.

Defence attorney Rashad Khan told magistrate Wilma van der Merwe it was his intention to launch an application before the Cape High Court for three different court orders.

The first would compel the consolidation of all the twenty legs of the investigation into one case, before one court.

The effect of the second order would be to stop all pending prosecutions until a cut-off date had been set by the high court for the marathon investigation.

The cut-off date would be the subject of the third order he said.

There are currently three prosecutions pending against Brown—one involving Fidentia and the Transport, Education and Training Authority (Teta), another other involving the investment concerns Fundi and Infinity, and the third relating to the Antheru Trust.

Khan said these related to only three of the twenty legs of investigations, which would take years to reach finality.

He said this would violate Brown’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.

In order to launch the high court application, he needed a postponement of the Fundi and Infinity case, which meant it could not commence on Monday as scheduled.

He said he and prosecutors Bruce Morrison SC and Thersia du Toit had agreed to a postponement to December 10.

Although accepting the postponement date, the magistrate said it was not for the defence and prosecution to agree to such a postponement.

She said it was the court’s function to decide whether a postponement was in fact justified, and by reaching an agreement about it, between themselves, the defence and prosecution had usurped the function of the court.

Van der Merwe said she had twice already set the trial date, but Khan attached “very little value” to the scheduled dates.

She said she would not postpone the start of the trial indefinitely, but nor would she set a final date until she was absolutely sure that there would be no further delay.—Sapa