ACTING Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has hit back at claims by former spy boss Arthur Fraser that he was never afforded the opportunity to give evidence at the state capture inquiry.
In a statement issued by the secretary of the commission, Professor Itumeleng Mosala, on Thursday evening, Justice Zondo states that it was Fraser who in fact snubbed the commission.
The former head of the country’s correctional services and former chief of spies, Fraser officially raised his objection to the nomination of Justice Zondo as one of the people to be considered for the vacant position of Chief Justice.
In a letter sent to the panel chaired by Judge Navi Pillay, tasked with recommending fives names to President Cyril Ramaphosa by October 29, Fraser raised several points.
This included that Justice Zondo, as the chairperson of the state capture commission, never gave him the opportunity to give his side of the story.
Fraser’s name featured prominently during the sitting of the commission as having abused secret service funds.
However, the commission has hit back, saying that despite public calls made by the chairperson of the commission from February 2018 to early in 2020 inviting past and present directors-general and ministers who had knowledge of alleged acts of state capture and corruption to come forward and give that information to the commission, Fraser did not, over more than two years, come forward to share such information with the commission.
Mosala said that Fraser never submitted an application to the commission for leave to give evidence.
“It is not clear why, if Mr Fraser felt that he had been implicated by certain witnesses in wrongdoing, he did not follow the Rules (of the Commission) and apply for leave to testify. In this regard it is to be noted that Mr Fraser is legally represented by lawyers who are familiar with the Rules of the Commission.
“If Mr Fraser wanted to testify, he needed to comply with the Rules that govern the position of persons who want to testify to defend themselves against witnesses who have implicated them,” Mosala said.
He added that only Fraser could explain why he had not lodged an application for leave to give evidence before the commission because he did lodge two other applications, including one for leave to cross-examine certain witnesses and one for an order compelling the State Security Agency to give him certain documents.
Mosala goes on to explain that in August 2020 an investigator of the commission called Fraser’s then-attorney after becoming aware of statements made by Fraser that he would disclose secrets about presidents and judges in regard to state capture and corruption.
However, according to that investigator, Fraser’s attorney was unco-operative and told the investigator that he did not want to engage with the commission and they would use their “own channels and methods”.
Furthermore, the head of the commission’s legal team, Advocate Paul Pretorius SC, called upon Fraser to co-operate with the commission’s investigators in April this year, “even at that late stage” to conduct an investigation in respect of the information he said he had which he claimed would expose presidents and judges “but to date Mr Fraser has not co-operated with the commission’s investigators”.
Mosala said the commission did have an application by Fraser for leave to cross-examine certain witnesses, which should have been decided about two or so months ago but was not “because Fraser filed comprehensive written submissions at the time which needed to be considered”.
“That application is to be decided shortly,” Mosala said.