Brown at peace with prison

By Drum Digital
30 April 2013

Former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown has made peace with the possibility of imprisonment, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

He testified about some of his positive experiences during his five months in jail in 2008, as part of argument in mitigation of sentence on two counts of fraud.

Judge Anton Veldhuizen asked how he would feel returning to jail.

Brown said he would be at peace and at the court's mercy, should such a decision be made.

"I've said this has been a very long six years, and I'm quite tired of looking over my shoulder. I'm tired of all the coercive media and I'm tired of the litigation," he said.

"I want finality. If that means I have to spend some time in prison for finality, then I will..., and I will make something positive out of it."

Brown was recently found guilty on two counts of fraud for misrepresentations he made in handling investments for the Transport Education and Training Authority and the Mantadia Asset Trust Company.

He was acquitted on seven other charges of corruption, money-laundering, theft, and fraud.

Brown, who was in the dock for a second day, seemed exhausted while testifying.

He told the court his incarceration had been traumatic, but also therapeutic, in that he had seen how other people dealt with suffering.

He said that while chained to a hospital bed after being attacked, he saw general neglect in the ward and wrote to the correctional services minister about the poor ventilation and lack of medication for other patients.

As a result, steps were taken to improve the conditions.

He also helped educate prisoners.

"I gave them advice and helped them.... [I told them] how to carry their point across [in court] and how to ask for better bail conditions," he said.

He also gave religious advice to a prisoner with tuberculosis and persuaded him to admit to his crimes and make peace with his family, which he did before he died.

"I will use my skills and things I've learned in this process to assist other people [in prison]," he told the court.

Veldhuizen asked how he would feel if the court imposed a heavy fine and whether he would have the means to pay.

Brown said his estate had been sequestered and his reputation tainted.

However, he had support from his friends and family, and had also been offered employment in the form of setting up a business structure, not in the financial services sector.

The man who had offered him this job had also offered to assist him should he be fined.

-by Sapa

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