The criminal trial of Tigon kingpins Gary Porritt and Sue Bennett was postponed in the South Gauteng High Court on Monday after news that Porritt had been hospitalised due to an injury to his hand.
Porritt and Bennett are on trial on more than 3 000 charges of fraud, racketeering and contraventions of the Companies Act, Income Tax Act and the Securities Exchange Act.
The charges relate to the collapse of JSE listed financial services group Tigon around 2002. At that stage Tigon’s shares were the best performing shares on the JSE.
The trial only started late in 2016 due to several applications and appeals by the accused who have been found to deliberately delay the proceedings.
Porritt has been in prison since mid-2017 after he failed to appear in court. He pleaded illness, but his bail was withdrawn after the court did an inquiry and found that he intended to skip court.
The state’s first witness, Jack Milne, is still on the witness stand and is currently being cross-examined by Bennett. Milne was CEO of Progressive Systems College, which ran an investment fund underwritten by Tigon. He earlier testified that he, Porritt and Bennett conspired from the word go to set up the fund to defraud investors.
Milne reached a plea and sentence agreement with the state and served some time in jail for his role in the matter.
On Monday Porritt failed to appear in court and investigating officer captain Sandra van Wyk went to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, which is where Porritt had been taken to, to find out what was going on.
State prosecutor advocate Jan Ferreira later informed the court that Porritt had broken his left index finger and must undergo surgery.
He has been booked off for three weeks.
The case was postponed until May 2, and Bennett was warned to be in court on that date and the subsequent days set aside for the trial.
Professor Harvey Wainer, the forensic expert, is expected to testify in June. Presiding judge Brian Spilg earlier stated that the case might be decided on documents showing the flow of money.
Outside court it was alleged that Porritt sustained the injury when another inmate tried to grab a cell phone from his hand. Prison authorities are investigating the matter.