Court says no to warrant for auction boss
Johannesburg - An application for an arrest warrant for Auction Alliance boss Rael Levitt was rejected by the Pretoria Magistrate's Court, his attorney said on Thursday.
Dale Smiedt, of Smiedt and Associates Attorneys, said: "We understand that the [consumer] commissioner approached the Magistrate's Court in Pretoria [on Wednesday] to have a warrant for Mr Levitt's arrest issued."
The request was denied, however.
Directorate of Public Prosecutions spokesperson Medupe Simasiku confirmed this, and said the summons was not properly served to Levitt.
"The summons were served to the accused's attorneys instead... the correct way is to serve the summons to the accused in person 14 days before the set court date."
Simasiku said the process would start over and a new court date would be set.
Earlier this week, the National Consumer Commission (NCC) threatened to have Levitt arrested if he failed to appear at a hearing on Tuesday. He failed to appear at the last three NCC hearings.
The NCC is probing claims that Levitt was involved in auction rigging, after businesswoman Wendy Appelbaum said she had been "duped" at an auction in December.
In a statement on Wednesday, senior partner Alan Smiedt said summonses issued by the NCC were invalid. He said this was because they were not properly served, as required by the Consumer Protection Act and Criminal Procedure Act no 51 of 1977.
If the NCC tried to use a new summons for a warrant application, it would be "vigorously opposed", Smiedt said.
The commission ruled on the Appelbaum matter last Thursday, finding Levitt guilty of bid rigging and fraud. It sentenced him to 12 months in jail or a R1m fine, The Star reported.
Smiedt said on Wednesday this needed to be reviewed, and the relevant papers were being prepared. He also disputed the NCC's right to impose a jail sentence.
The NCC could not immediately be reached for comment.