With little actual progress made within the prison trial of Tigon-accused Gary Porritt and Sue Bennett thus far this 12 months, Choose Brian Spilg has now issued an intensive order that preemptively offers with attainable additional delays when the trial resumes on September 8.
This consists of the likelihood that any of the accused elevating well being points for failure to look or put together for courtroom as directed could also be despatched for remark whereas the trial continues of their short-term absence.
Learn Moneyweb’s full protection of the Tigon case here.
Porritt, the previous CEO of monetary providers group Tigon, and Bennett, a former director, are going through greater than 3 000 expenses, together with fraud, racketeering and contravening the Revenue Tax and different laws.
Tigon was a prime performing firm on the JSE when in collapsed round 2002. Porritt was arrested in that 12 months and Bennett in 2003, however their prison trial solely began in 2006.
The 2 are representing themselves, saying they can not afford attorneys, and have been accused of attempting each trick within the e book to delay the proceedings.
Porritt has been in jail for the previous 4 years after failing to look in courtroom in June 2017.
Bennett is on bail, however a warrant for her arrest was authorised on July 26 and 27 as a result of her failure to look in courtroom, apparently as a result of well being issues. That is regular in such circumstances. The warrants haven’t been issued and will probably be cancelled if she attends courtroom on the set dates in September.
The sluggish progress thus far this 12 months is partly as a result of restricted out there courtroom days, Bennett’s well being issues, and a scare when Porritt was uncovered to Covid-19.
Because the starting of the 12 months the courtroom has solely handled the admissibility of affidavits and paperwork emanating from Hong Kong, opposed by the accused. This must be accomplished earlier than the following witness, Grant Ramsay, who acted as exterior auditor for Tigon, takes the stand as the following state witness.
Efforts to forestall additional delays
Spilg has now ordered that each one events must be on-line on September 8 for Porritt to proceed his argument opposing the admission of sure of the Hong Kong paperwork.
Each accused got clear closing dates for his or her opposing arguments and Bennett has been ordered to organize written arguments timeously, setting out the precise nature and grounds for her objections.
She will probably be allowed oral arguments as nicely, but when she fails to look in courtroom because the courtroom offers with these paperwork, she will probably be referred for remark by way of the Legal Process Act to find out if she is match to face trial.
This is applicable “ought to the rationale be her incapability to attend courtroom by cause of any bodily or psychological situation” which incorporates however just isn’t restricted to extreme melancholy dysfunction, convulsion dysfunction or anxiousness dysfunction.
If she does attend courtroom however has failed to organize the written arguments as directed, the courtroom may also contemplate sending her for remark – or, if there isn’t any legitimate cause for her absence, decide whether or not she is responsible of contempt of courtroom.
Spilg dominated that the trial will proceed in her short-term absence if she is certainly despatched for remark.
He additional directed her to “carefully observe such recommendation, remedy and drugs regime as could also be prescribed or beneficial by her treating medical practitioners previous to September 7 and thereafter topic to any courtroom dedication”.
Spilg gave an in depth order for Porritt to seek the advice of with Bennett earlier than the listening to resumes and gave clear instructions to preempt any excuse he could have on this regard. This consists of elevating the matter timeously with Correctional Providers or the investigating officer Warrant Officer Sandra van Wyk in order that any impediments could also be eliminated.
Porritt should put together written arguments “setting out in level type” his objections towards the admission of sure of the Hong Kong paperwork, failure of which can restrict his alternative to current oral arguments on the matter.
Earlier than Ramsay takes the stand, each accused should current to the courtroom, in writing, a listing of the paperwork introduced by Ramsay they at that stage agree could also be admitted, and after his evidence-in-chief they are going to be given two days to every put together an extra written doc, indicating which facets of his proof they plan to problem throughout cross-examination.
The courtroom will then resolve how a lot time they get for cross-examination.
Medical examination ordered for Porritt
Spilg additional ordered that Porritt be examined by Dr Tsitsi, a doctor who earlier testified in courtroom about Porritt’s well being, with Tsitsi informing the courtroom by September 6 for what number of hours per day and what number of days per week Porritt, who’s in his 70s, ought to attend courtroom.
When Ramsay takes the stand, Spilg desires the trial to proceed within the presence of all events within the Excessive Courtroom in Johannesburg and has given everyone honest discover, with instructions as to by when they need to current arguments ought to they object.
Spilg makes it clear that ought to both Porritt or Bennett object on the idea of issues regarding their well being, they could be despatched for remark.
Directions for the state
Lastly Spilg ordered the state to undergo the transcript and audiovisual recording of the proceedings of July 26. They have to then advise whether or not Spilg himself, a full bench of judges or as many judges because the decide president determines, ought to contemplate whether or not Porritt is in contempt for scandalising the courtroom or the judiciary, and what must be achieved about it.
They need to additionally handle Porritt’s utterances in relation to a attainable grievance towards Spilg on the Judicial Providers Fee that will result in impeachment or different disciplinary procedures and advise whether or not it quantities to contempt of courtroom, or is unconstitutional or impermissible – particularly because the trial has not but been concluded.
A earlier software for Spilg to recuse himself has been dismissed and go away to enchantment was denied.