Porritt is told: ‘One road, and it leads to your trial’

2011-03-09 00:00

“THERE is only one road and it leads to the trial”, disgraced businessman Gary Porritt was told yesterday.

Judge Geraldine Borchers ruled in the South Gauteng High Court that she cannot order the Legal Aid Board (LAB) to provide former Tigon boss Porritt and his assistant, Sue Bennett, with free legal aid, since they will not allow an investigation into their financial affairs.

Borchers made it clear that she is running out of patience with the delaying tactics of the accused, commenting: “I sometimes think one can choke on the Constitution.”

Porritt and Bennett indicated that they will appeal the latest ruling.

Borchers said the accused are using their rights to delay court proceedings.

In a protracted court case the accused applied to the LAB for free legal aid, but refused to complete the LAB’s form in which they had to indicate whether they are indigent as defined.

Borchers commented on Bennett’s good clothing, referred to her recent payments for an expensive heart operation, and referred to both accuseds’ multi-million rand trusts, saying she cannot find that they are not in a position to pay their legal costs.

Porritt, of Pietermaritzburg, a multimillionaire until five years ago and one of the most powerful businessmen in the country, and Bennett are facing 3 160 charges ranging from fraud and theft to tax evasion and infringements of the Companies Act potentially involving far more than R1 billion.

The charges against them run to 1 400 pages.

Porritt and Bennett were arrested in 2002 and 2003 respectively, and the trial has not been able to proceed since then because the accused have repeatedly brought new applications to court or appealed against rulings.

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