Will Agrizzi’s testimony be used to fry ‘bigger fish’?

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Will Agrizzi’s testimony be used to fry ‘bigger fish’?

Even if the ‘explosive’ testimony of former Bosasa executive – Angelo Agrizzi – before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture is overwhelmingly true, it is far from certain that those implicated in the testimony will ever be successfully prosecuted. ‘This would not necessarily mean they are not guilty. It could just as well mean that the Hawks and the NPA have (yet again) stuffed up an investigation.’ So says constitutional law expert Professor Pierre de Vos, arguing that – following the amendment of section 8(2) of the commission’s regulations – evidence and facts referred to by Agrizzi during his testimony before the commission (including the alleged evidence contained in the so-called bribe book) can now be used in any subsequent criminal trials. ‘Of course, the normal rules of evidence would apply to having such evidence admitted at a criminal trial,’ he says. In an analysis on his Constitutionally Speaking blog, De Vos notes that while Agrizzi could not be prosecuted purely on the basis of the self-incriminating evidence given by him before the commission, if the Hawks managed to build a case against him that does not rely on his own testimony, he could still be prosecuted. However, De Vos says it is more likely that Agrizzi would offer to testify as a state witness in various criminal trials in the hope of receiving indemnity from prosecution in terms of section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act. ‘It is important to note that the Zondo Commission does not have the power to offer Agrizzi indemnity from prosecution (although his testimony could not be used against him in a criminal trial).’ Agrizzi’s best bet, says De Vos, is to try to make a deal with the NPA in the hope that the judge grants him indemnity from prosecution in terms of section 204. ‘If Agrizzi turns state witness, and if he is offered a section 204 deal, he will therefore have a huge incentive to testify truthfully in order to protect himself against subsequent criminal prosecution.’ He notes that having an insider turning state witness can assist the prosecutors to secure criminal convictions against ‘bigger fish’ – which could include Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, former President Jacob Zuma and Deputy NDPP Nomgcobo Jiba. For this reason, he says, it is surprising that the Hawks have not yet applied for search and seizure warrants to search the Bosasa premises as well as any other places (including his home) where Watson may be hiding evidence, as well as the offices and homes of Zuma. If this happens, says De Vos, ‘we should soon see very high-ranking politicians appearing in court on various corruption-related charges’.

Full analysis on the Constitutionally Speaking blog

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