Fidentia's Brown in bid to halt prosecution

A Cape High Court application is pending in which former chief executive of the Fidentia group, J Arthur Brown, seeks an order to stop his prosecution on embezzlement charges, or to at least stop the investigation.

This emerged in the Cape Town Regional Court on Monday, when Brown appeared briefly before Magistrate Wilma van der Merwe.

Brown at this stage has three embezzlement cases pending.

The first relates to the Fundi and Infinity investment groups, the second to the Transport, Education and Training Authority (Teta), and the third to the Antheru Trust.

Brown’s appearance on Monday in the Regional Court related to the Fundi and Infinity case.

Due to the pending high court proceedings, this case was provisionally postponed to April 7, when the defence team has to inform the regional court when high court proceedings are scheduled to start.

At Monday’s proceedings, defence attorney Rushdi Khan said the high court application was lodged a month ago, but that the prosecution had only responded last Friday, indicating the state’s intention to oppose the application.

Asked whether the application was filed as an ordinary or urgent one, Khan said he did not know as he was merely standing in for his father, Rashaad, who was Brown’s attorney.

State senior counsel Jannie van Vuuren has taken over the prosecution from senior counsel Bruce Morrison, who has resigned for a high-profile forensic post in the private sector.

Van Vuuren told the court that the high court application had not been filed as an urgent one, but that he would do all in his power to expedite the high court proceedings.

The application should have been lodged as an urgent one, Van Vuuren said, in line with Brown’s constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Van der Merwe told Khan she wanted proper details at the next hearing.

“If the high court application was only lodged a month ago, I will want to know why, and if the application was lodged as an ordinary one and not as an urgent one, I will also want to know why,” she said.

Minutes after regional court proceedings, Brown made two further appearances in the lower magistrate’s court before Magistrate Vusi Mhlangu.

The first case in the magistrate’s court involved the Teta one, in which Brown was to have stood in the dock with Teta’s former chief executive Piet Bothma of Johannesburg.

Bothma was absent. Van Vuuren explained that he had given Bothma permission not to attend as he could not afford the expense of a return flight to Cape Town for a mere postponement lasting only a few minutes.

Van Vuuren asked that a warrant of arrest for Bothma—normal procedure in the event of failure to appear—be held over until the next appearance, also on April 7.

In the second appearance in the magistrate’s court, Brown stood in the dock with Jacobus Theart, who was involved with Brown in the Antheru Trust case.

This case also was postponed to April 7.—Sapa

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