Ryk van Niekerk
3 minute read
23 Jun 2017
8:04 am

Porritt seeks gagging order against Moneyweb

Ryk van Niekerk

Tigon mastermind wants to stop the publication of videos and photos of him lying on the courtroom floor.

Tigon kingpin Gary Porritt will launch an application in the North Gauteng High Court on Friday morning to gag Moneyweb from publishing several videos and photographs of him lying on the courtroom floor, apparently too sick to sit on a chair and stand trial on more than 3 000 charges of fraud and theft.

This drama unfolded in court after Porritt was arrested earlier this week in a hospital in Pietermaritzburg after he violated his bail conditions and failed to appear in court on two occasions.

The spectacle commenced shortly after police brought Porritt into the courtroom prior to the start of the proceedings. He claimed he was too ill to sit in a chair and proceeded to lie down on the courtroom floor.

Moneyweb journalist Antoinette Slabbert was in court and started taking photos and videos of Porritt softly moaning whilst lying on the floor. Later Sue Bennet, his co-accused, and his attorney tried to help him up from the floor and to sit on a chair.

Porritt immediately slumped onto the desk in front of him and within seconds sort of fell off the desk and hung sideways in his chair.

Slabbert stopped filming when Judge Brian Spilg entered and the court was in session.

During a subsequent adjournment, Slabbert shot another video of Bennett crouching over Porritt and giving him water, whilst he was crawling around under desks.

It was only then when Bennett saw Slabbert shooting the video that she quickly got up and tried to block the camera. She objected that this could not be allowed as it was an invasion of Porritt’s privacy. Slabbert stopped filming and left the courtroom.

Bennett followed Slabbert out of the courtroom and demanded that she delete the video and photographs. Slabbert refused.

When court proceedings resumed, Advocate Annalene van den Heever, who represents Porritt only with regard to his contempt of court, objected to Judge Brian Spilg and said they will bring an application on Friday to stop Moneyweb from taking photos and videos and publishing them.

Spilg then scheduled that the application and arguments will be heard on Friday morning. He ordered that no photos or videos be published prior to his judgement on the matter. He ordered that Moneyweb delete tweets that contained some of the photographs.

Contempt of court

After this application, the hearing regarding Porritt’s failure to appear in court on two occasions that started on Thursday, will resume. Van den Heever said on Thursday that there is a possibility that further neurological tests on Porritt might be done on Friday, but Spilg would have none of it.

He said Porritt has been discharged from three hospitals. “Nobody will convince me he needs further tests (at this stage),” he said. Spilg said the court is for the moment only dealing with his failure to attend court and if it is necessary to do a further enquiry into his state of health and ability to stand trial that could be done at a later stage

Spilg ordered that Porritt be remanded in custody at Milpark hospital overnight at his own cost. Should he be discharged, the police would detain him in custody.

Bennett’s medical problems

In January Bennett also failed to attend court due to alleged illness and the court spent almost the whole first half of the year on an enquiry into her fitness to stand trial. Earlier this month the enquiry was stayed as her condition improved and the trial was apparently back on track. The court still has to rule on her contempt.

Porritt and co-accused Sue Bennett are on trial for more than 3 000 charges of a variety of financial crimes including fraud related to the collapse of JSE-listed investment company Tigon around 2001 and 2002.

The pair have delayed the start of the trial by 14 years by bringing various applications and appeals.

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