He’s on life support and dialysis, but still Agrizzi fights on

The former Bosasa COO is ‘critical’ in ICU, but he will ‘continue to fight and expose corruption in SA’, says partner

22 October 2020 - 19:42 By Nicki Güleş
Angelo Agrizzi's memoir is an important book that rightfully takes its place alongside other pivotal books, such as 'The President’s Keepers' and 'Gangster State', says CNA CEO Benjamin Trisk, who has ordered half the print run.
'SLEDGEHAMMER' Angelo Agrizzi's memoir is an important book that rightfully takes its place alongside other pivotal books, such as 'The President’s Keepers' and 'Gangster State', says CNA CEO Benjamin Trisk, who has ordered half the print run.
Image: Supplied

Angelo Agrizzi’s partner, Debbie Agrizzi, has broken her silence about his health, saying he is in a critical condition at a private hospital in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs after suffering a heart attack on Wednesday morning.

Agrizzi, the former COO of Bosasa, was transferred to the hospital this week after being denied bail last week by the Palm Ridge magistrate’s court, where he faces charges of bribery and corruption in connection with R800,000 allegedly paid to top ANC politician Vincent Smith.

“He has thus far been placed on three different forms of life support. We have been informed that he is currently on an internal ventilator. He has also been placed on dialysis, as his kidneys are failing,” Debbie said in response to questions.

“He has been receiving medication to keep his blood pressure up. We were informed that on the morning of October 21 [Wednesday] he went into cardiac arrest and needed to be revived by the medical staff.”

Angelo has never needed to prove anything to anyone and despite being compared to certain individuals, Angelo, since coming forward to the Zondo commission and authorities, has been at the forefront of exposing corruption in SA, despite personal risk to himself and his family.
Debbie Agrizzi

Agrizzi was denied bail after the court heard on Wednesday last week that he posed a flight risk because he had deposited R24m into offshore accounts and bought property and a luxury car in Italy. These transfers and purchases were made between 2018 and early last year, days before he testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. None of this had been declared in his affidavit before court and was among the reasons magistrate Phillip Venter denied him bail.

On Wednesday night, Debbie said even before appearing before the Zondo commission, Agrizzi’s health was poor and he was suffering from “respiratory conditions relating to decreased oxygen levels”.

“His condition has since deteriorated further, to the extent that he required hospitalisation before his appearance in the Palm Ridge magistrate’s court. His doctors placed him on oxygen, which he is currently permanently dependent on,” she said. “Angelo has also experienced ill effects relating to diabetes and high blood pressure.”

On Thursday last week, Agrizzi’s family was told by a representative of the department of correctional services that he had been transferred from Johannesburg Prison to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital “as his health had deteriorated”.

“We did discover that while at Chris Hani Baragwanath, Angelo, despite being intubated and sedated, was guarded by three armed guards,” Debbie said.

“We are aware that he was found to be unconscious [at Chris Hani Baragwanath on] the morning of [Friday] October 16, but do not know any further details as we did not receive any updates from the department of corrections.”

Debbie said that on Monday doctors at the state hospital asked that he be transferred to a private hospital.

“I believe that Chris Hani Baragwanath did not have any beds available in ICU or high care and therefore recommended he be transferred,” Debbie said.

“After he was transferred, the department of corrections took further measures and placed nine armed guards on watch, with three armed guards being placed in his actual ICU room. Further, despite being sedated, intubated, on dialysis and on various drips, they further restrained him by his legs to his hospital bed.”

Sunday Times Daily has also learnt that Agrizzi’s memoir, Inside the Belly of the Beast: The Real Bosasa Story, which was set to hit the shelves in two weeks, has been dropped by NB Publishers after Agrizzi’s failed bail application last week, during which he was found not to have disclosed his offshore investments.

Earlier this year, NB Publishers had to withdraw the book The Lost Boys of Bird Island, which made paedophilia claims about apartheid-era cabinet ministers. Its parent company, Media24, paid a R3m settlement to apartheid finance minister Barend du Plessis and tendered an unreserved apology.

Sunday Times Daily has approached NB Publishers for comment.

However, it is understood the book will still be published by a different publisher.

Angelo Agrizzi during an appearance at the Palm Ridge magistrate's court earlier this month.
'CRITICAL' Angelo Agrizzi during an appearance at the Palm Ridge magistrate's court earlier this month.
Image: Antonio Muchave

Benjamin Trisk, the CEO of CNA, which has ordered half of the print run, has expressed his support for the book.

“It is vital for our civil society that books of this kind should be published and supported by the public at large.

“The Zondo commission has been a vital part of an unfolding narrative that has at last shone a light on the darkest corners of our recent history. In this work, Angelo Aggrizi’s testimony as a whistle-blower has been invaluable and (whatever his flaws and recent motivation might have been) there is no question that this is an important book that rightfully takes its place alongside other pivotal books, such as The President’s Keepers and Gangster State. This is a sledgehammer of a book,” Trisk said.

Debbie said the family was hopeful Agrizzi would pull through and was grateful for the updates on his health that they were receiving from his doctors.

Asked for her response to those who believe Agrizzi is angling for medical parole in the same manner as Schabir Shaik, she said: “The medical records speak for themselves.”

“Angelo has never needed to prove anything to anyone and despite being compared to certain individuals, Angelo, since coming forward to the Zondo commission and authorities, has been at the forefront of exposing corruption in SA, despite personal risk to himself and his family.

“Angelo has done and will continue to do more to fight and expose corruption in SA regardless of what people on social media comment.”

Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi’s ex-PA, Gina Pieters, took the stand at the state capture inquiry on September 2 2020. She detailed how Bosasa executives made sure flowers, hampers and other 'surprises' were sent to then minister of environmental affairs Nomvula Mokonyane and her PA, Sandy Thomas.

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