18 June 2018

South Africa: Official State Capture Investigation At Last Shows Signs of Getting Underway


Cape Town — Occasionally hidden in the many long pages of Parliament's Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATCs), a precious nugget of information may be found. For example, here is something for those who are wondering when the state capture investigation to get underway. It turns out that a small start has already been made.

ATC volume 80 of 2018 reported that Deputy Chief Justice R M M Zondo, Chairperson of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State, on 4 April 2018 requested transcripts of the proceedings of all portfolio committees that have so far conducted hearings into state capture.

It's a start.

That would be the Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs and, of course, Public Enterprises, whose inquiry took on the appearance and scale of an official investigation, and probably accomplished more than the average state inquiry has ever done before. Sadly, though, it was prevented at the very end from getting the evidence that could have sent people to jail by the untimely disappearance of its main witnesses, Duduzane Zuma, Ajay Gupta' Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta. They were all subpoenaed, along with former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni, but declined the invitation.

As is now widely known, Myeni submitted a medical certificate saying she was "not in fit and full capacity" to appear before the Committee, and objected that she was being "stripped" of her rights. Dudu, no one is interfering with your rights. You are the one breaking the law because, as you know, parliamentary Committees may subpoena anyone to appear before them, up to and including the President, and they have to comply. Failure to comply with a subpoena is an offence.

Dudu's attorney, Gary Mazaham, said in a letter that he had not received transcripts of evidence presented to the inquiry related to his client and therefore didn't know what questions to prepare for so he, too, would therefore not be able to appear before the Committee.

BDK Attorneys sent a letter on behalf of the Gupta brothers saying the Committee couldn't really expect them to trawl through all the evidence it had collected, and anyway the brothers were not in SA "being absent for business reasons" and they therefore also declined the invitation to appear before the committee.

When did a subpoena become an invitation? And when did lawyers get to decide on what evidence they're willing to consider? If ever these attorneys find themselves in a real-life court case, which under the circumstances is not impossible, they will have to go through all the evidence. So here is a handy list of what the state can provide if, like Zondo, they simply ask for it.

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