State Capture inquiry chairman, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - South African civil society organisations on Tuesday expressed deep concern over recent attacks on the state capture inquiry by the EFF.

This comes after EFF leader Julius Malema made various allegations about the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture which include; that the commission was "Micky Mouse Show" and that deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo was presiding over a commission that was stealing from the poor by renting an expensive building to host the commission.

The group of organisations in a statement said while it is the first to recognise that a robust, healthy democracy requires competing views and protest, "expression and protest action that threatens violence and harm, that looks to flirt with racist and bigoted sentiment and with hate speech can only erode our constitutional democracy, not strengthen it". 

"Repeated, unsubstantiated claims, in addition to being all of that mentioned above, reveal an agenda that goes beyond criticism of the commission. It smacks of a deliberate attempt to undermine it and the participants who are uncovering the web of state capture and corruption."

Civil societies further said that while processes of governance, including commissions of inquiry, should not be insulated from considered criticism, the EFF's threats not only placed witnesses who have testified before the commission and its officials in harm’s way, but would also have a chilling effect on any potential witnesses who may have information that could assist the commission. 

They added that this could render the work of the commission meaningless and help those implicated in state capture to walk free without being investigated or called to account.

The organisations said that an attack on the inquiry was an attack on South Africa's democracy and must be strenuously resisted. 

"We call on the EFF, if it is possession of incriminating evidence relating to state capture and corruption, to make a full disclosure and present it to the commission. In the same vein, we urge the commission to use the powers at its disposal to compel persons who claim to have relevant incriminating evidence, to appear before it.

"We as a society have sacrificed too much, and our people denied the basic necessities of life for too long, to not insist that the commission’s work is taken to a proper conclusion."

* Read more on the #StateCaptureInquiry here .

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