South Africa: Zondo Commission Adjourns Until Friday After Zuma Threatens to Withdraw

Former President Jacob Zuma at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, July 17, 2019.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has adjourned the commission into state capture until Friday after former president Jacob Zuma's legal team complained that their client had been brought in under false pretences.

This came after Zuma's legal team threatened to withdraw him from testifying, with advocate Muzi Khakhane saying that his client was being cross-examined on hearsay testimony.

What was meant to be a 30-minute recess to discuss a possible withdrawal turned into an hour-long deliberation between the commission's and Zuma's legal teams on whether the former president would continue giving his testimony.

Zuma's legal team complained that evidence leader Paul Pretorius was focusing on one aspect of former minister Barbara Hogan's testimony that he had interfered to appoint Siyabonga Gama into the position of Transnet CEO.

Zuma believes that he has been victimised by the commission.

After the hour-long deliberation, Zondo told attendees the commission's legal team had agreed with Zuma's legal representatives that they needed a day to discuss his concerns.

"It has been decided that we should adjourn the proceedings for the day and we should not sit tomorrow, in order to give a full opportunity to the commission's legal team and former president's legal team, which would involve the former president as well, to see whether a way can be found in which his concerns are addressed, without the commission compromising any part of their investigation," Zondo said.

Zondo reiterated his statement on Tuesday that all sides must find a way to work cohesively, given the environment.

Zuma started giving testimony on Monday, kicking off his appearance with a lengthy statement in which he claimed there was a long-running plot against him.

On several occasions he told the commission that he knew of plots to kill him.

On Tuesday morning, he said his personal assistant had received a call after his first day at the inquiry, with the person on the other end telling her they were going to "kill" Zuma and his children.

Zuma objected to being cross-examined when Pretorius wanted to question him about Hogan's statement to the commission.

Zondo explained that, just because Zuma had answered something, it did not mean that that was the end of it. He said the commission had to weigh up all the evidence and ensure it had a full picture.

Sikhakhane, requested a short adjournment around 14:30, saying he wanted his client to "consider his position".

"I have a view that my client was brought in under false pretences. My client is clearly being cross-examined. I want my client to consider his position - I advised him to come here in bona fides and I do not think I was right."

Source: News24

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