Pretoria - The lawyers acting for Alexis Bizos, son of deceased stalwart human rights advocate George Bizos, has denied that his assault trial, which was due to start in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court last week, had to be postponed “at the last minute” because of their client obtaining new counsel.
Johannesburg based law firm Kropman Attorneys said in a statement that it seemed AfriForum, which was handling the private prosecution on behalf of Alexis’s estranged wife Monique van Oosterhout, was trying to cast aspersions on Bizos.
The law firm said this was both in terms of this litigation and on him personally.
The trial of Bizos jr was last week postponed to February 23, and AfriForum said in a statement at the time that this was because he decided to obtain a new legal team at the last minute.
Bizos is facing a charge of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, following allegations that he had assaulted Van Oosterhout.
AfriForum’s private prosecution unit is prosecuting the case, after the National Prosecuting Authority earlier declined to prosecute Bizos. Advocate Phyllis Vorster, prosecutor at the unit, will lead the evidence in the case on behalf of Van Oosterhout.
The private prosecution said while they were ready to proceed with the trial and had already consulted with their witnesses, the case had to be postponed because of Bizos. Natasha Venter, an adviser at the prosecuting unit, last week said its seemed as if Bizos was trying to delay matters.
But Kropman Attorneys now said this was far from the truth as both parties had, prior to last week’s court appearance, agreed that the matter be postponed.
The firm said AfriForum was well aware of the fact that on September 9 a notice of substitution of attorneys of record was served. “So, to say that the change of attorneys was ‘last minute’ is not correct.
“AfriForum has known about this change for over a month,” the law firm said.
It further stated that on September 17, AfriForum’s private prosecution unit asked the defence team whether they wanted to postpone the start of the trial, as attorneys from both sides were involved in the Life Esidimeni inquest.
The law firm said the matter was thus mutually postponed and most definitely not because Bizos wanted the matter delayed.