/ 28 September 2021

State to subpoena and fact-check Agrizzi’s ‘illness’ claims

Agrizzi’s own testimony before the Zondo commission has already implicated him in wrongdoing at Bosasa.
Angelo Agrizzi previously told the Zondo commission Bosasa’s business interests were facilitated by the ubiquitous bribing of officials with large sums of cash, allegedly kept in vaults at the company’s offices. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The state will subpoena fraud-accused Angelo Agrizzi’s doctor for an inquiry into the true medical condition of the self-confessed racist and societal delinquent, who again failed to appear in court.

On Tuesday, at the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court, sitting in Palmridge, state advocate Sandiswa Nkula-Nyoni said the prosecution team wanted to ascertain the nature of Agrizzi’s alleged illnesses, which have led the fraud- and corruption-accused to miss successive court appearances this year, despite being well enough to attend his daughter’s wedding in May. 

Due to Agrizzi continuously missing court appearances, the court ruled that it would be better for the interest of justice for his co-accused, former MP Vincent Smith, to appear separately so that his matter does not stall. Smith — who chaired parliament’s portfolio committee on correctional services from 2009 and 2014 — also faces fraud and corruption charges related to a R800 000 bribery allegation. 

Agrizzi, the former chief operations officer for controversial state-capture company Bosasa, told the commission of inquiry into state capture in January and October 2019 that the firm had doled out bribes to senior ANC politicians in exchange for lucrative contracts, including a R838-million correctional services catering contract.  

On Tuesday, Agrizzi’s lawyer, Mannie Witz, had earlier told the court that his client had spent about R3.5-million in medical bills since his arrest in October last year, and that a “respiratory expert” had compiled a report showing that his client was not fit to attend court. 

“Mr Agrizzi spent 59 days in hospital in intensive care. Since his release [earlier this year], he has been confined to his home and on oxygen. He has a special lift in his home that takes him to his garage, and walks a few steps to the car when he goes to sign at the police station [as per his bail conditions]. 

“He does not get out of the car [when he reaches the police station] and a book is brought to him to sign,” Witz said in court. 

But prosecutor Nkula-Nyoni said the state wanted to independently verify these claims, and would subpoena Agrizzi’s doctor, while also enlisting the services of a medical expert to assist the National Prosecuting Authority

“There is a possibility that the state might have to get a state doctor. We would like to get a medical person to advise the state on how we can continue with Mr Agrizzi. 

“At this stage, it would be pre-emptive to say how [we will proceed] until we get advice,” Nkula-Nyoni said. 

Magistrate Phillip Venter postponed the matter to November for the state to serve its mooted subpoena and for medical assessments to be done on Agrizzi. 

Meanwhile, Nkula-Nyoni had earlier told the court that the state had finalised the indictment against Smith, who was present at court. Smith’s matter was also postponed to November, for his legal team to receive the outstanding disclosure documents. 

Smith, after his arrest in October last year, had said he intended to plead not guilty on all counts, and that he had faith in the South African justice system.