17 August 2018

South Africa: Zondo Turns Down DA Request to Cross-Examine Witnesses At State Capture Inquiry

The chairperson of the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has turned down the DA's application to access witnesses and directly participate in the proceedings due to get under way on Monday.

The DA wanted, amongst other things, access to all non-confidential evidence formally submitted to the commission, the right to examine witnesses who testify and the right to make written and oral argument at the conclusion of the commission.

In a seven-page statement, Zondo said that, like any member of the public, the DA could make a contribution to the work of the commission and would have access to all documents presented during a public hearing.

However, it would be excluded from access to evidence the commission deemed confidential.

"The DA, like any member of the public, is free to present any relevant documentary evidence to the commission's legal team, through the secretary of the commission, for consideration as evidence to be placed before the chairperson of the commission, but its request to present such evidence directly to the commission in a hearing is declined," Zondo said.

The commission is investigating allegations that the politically-connected Gupta family had undue influence over former president Jacob Zuma on the appointment of Cabinet ministers, and at state-owned enterprises.

The deputy chief justice however said the opposition party can apply to the commission's legal team to request that the commission call witnesses.

"If the commission's legal team decides not to present that witness or witnesses before the commission to give evidence and the DA is aggrieved by that decision, it may apply to the chairperson of the commission for his decision on the request," Zondo said.

He also declined the DA's request to present written and oral argument at the conclusion of the proceedings. However, he granted the party leave to resubmit its request at a later stage, should it still wish to do so.

The commission is yet to release a list of witnesses.

News24 has, however, learnt that the witnesses include former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, former Government Communications and Information System (GCIS) CEO Themba Maseko and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.

Jonas publicly admitted that the Gupta family had offered him R600m if he accepted the job of finance minister, to replace Nhlanhla Nene, in 2015.

Nene was later fired by Zuma and replaced by Des Van Rooyen, who only stayed in the job for three days. Zuma was put under pressure to fire him, and he then appointed Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

Mentor had also claimed Zuma was in the Gupta Saxonwold mansion when the family offered her the position of public enterprises minister in exchange for her cutting the SAA's lucrative route to India in favour of the Guptas' Jet Airways.

Source: News24

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