Appeal court rules that Savoi may travel abroad

2011-12-02 00:00

URUGUAYAN businessman Gaston Savoi has succeeded in having his bail conditions amended, allowing him to travel to countries with which South Africa does not have extradition agreements.

In a unanimous judgment handed down by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) yesterday, Judge Jonathan Heher found there was a “clear abuse of power” by senior Hawks investigators who attempted to “thwart” court orders allowing Savoi to travel to Angola this year. Savoi is facing charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering after he allegedly paid bribes to senior public servants in KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape in exchange for water purification contracts.

Savoi had some R140 million of his assets seized by the National Prosecuting Authority.

He launched an application in July to have his bail conditions amended so that he could travel to Angola and “personally deal” with problems relating to contracts for water purification plants he concluded with the Angolan government.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane later told City Press that he suspended Knorx Molelle, the Asset Forfeiture Unit boss in KwaZulu-Natal, because he allegedly “cut deals” with Savoi over the visit. Although Savoi’s original bail conditions allowed him to leave the country with written permission, Hawks investigators refused to allow him to travel to Angola. This was despite two magistrate’s court orders Savoi obtained giving him permission for the trip to Angola.

The orders were overturned by the Northern Cape High Court, and Savoi took the matter to the SCA, which ordered the investigating officer to return Savoi’s passport to him for travel within 24 hours of receiving notification from him that he intends to travel.

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