Former Tigon CEO Gary Porritt was arrested in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday morning. He was driven to Johannesburg by police officers on Wednesday afternoon and is expected to appear in court on Thursday morning.
Judge Brian Spilg ordered that upon arrival in Johannesburg he be detained in Charlotte Maxeke hospital until the court further directs.
Porritt is standing trial on more than 3 000 charges under the Companies Act, Stock Exchanges Control Act and Income Tax Act, as well as fraud and racketeering, all relating to the collapse of Tigon, a listed investment firm and the investment fund it guaranteed, Progressive Systems Guaranteed Growth (PSCGG).
He and his co-accused, former PSCGG director Sue Bennett were arrested in 2002 and 2003 respectively, but the trial only got underway late last year as a result of several applications and appeals they brought.
Both are unrepresented in the proceedings. They claim to have run out of money. Last month Bennett withdrew an application for assistance from Legal Aid, because she was not prepared to disclose her finances. The trial moved along very slowly due to Porritt’s slow note taking.
Very little evidence has been led so far this year after Bennett failed to appear in court in January, claiming illness. The court then embarked on an enquiry into her health and fitness to stand trial. The enquiry was stayed as her condition improved and the parties came to an agreement that the proceedings will continue intermittently to allow her time in-between to “recharge her batteries”.
The court still has to rule on her contempt for failing to appear.
The proceedings were apparently back on track by June 6, but last week Porritt failed to appear in court, allegedly due to health problems. Bennett told the court in an affidavit that he fainted three times in 30 minutes and was hospitalised as a result. She applied for a postponement until July 31, but Spilg ordered Porritt and Bennett to be in court on Monday.
She did, but he failed to appear. Spilg preliminarily revoked his bail and issued an arrest warrant for execution on Monday when he failed to appear in court for the second time.
On Tuesday Porritt indicated that he would bring an application on Wednesday to appeal the issue of the arrest warrant. Bennett indicated that such an application would suspend the arrest warrant.
The state was however of a different view and proceeded to arrest him at the Mediclinic in Pietermaritzburg where he was being discharged at the time.
On Wednesday Porritt, while absent, had legal representation in court, allegedly paid for by his son from the proceeds of the Porritt farming enterprise that the son heads. Adv Annaleen van den Heever who represented him withdrew the application for leave to appeal the arrest warrant.
Spilg in his order thereafter stated that Porritt “is at liberty to have accompany him (on the journey from Pietermaritzburg to Johannesburg) at his cost if he so wishes, a medical practitioner, including a doctor, a nurse or paramedic”. It is not clear whether he made use of this.
Spilg further ordered that three medical doctors who treated Porritt be subpoenaed to testify in court and bring all medical records and notes relating to his condition since June 8 and about his condition with them to court.
Spilg directed that Porritt will be the first person to testify about his medical condition. That is expected to happen on Thursday.
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