Gigaba, Mngoma face-off at Zondo commission rescheduled
Johannesburg - The highly anticipated face-off between former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and his estranged wife Norma Mngoma at the Zondo commission has been rescheduled to next Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo announced late on Friday that Mngoma’s appearance had to be rescheduled after former State Security Minister David Mahlobo’s testimony lasted all day and into the late evening.
In addition, Zondo was also told that Gigaba’s legal counsel was not available to proceed with its application later in the night.
Gigaba planned to apply to the inquiry to cross-examine Mngoma and to ask the commission not to make her evidence public.
Mngoma's evidence was expected to focus on Gupta-related matters and goings-on while she was married to Gigaba when he served as minister of public enterprises and as minister of finance.
Mngoma has publicly bashed her estranged husband and alleged that Gigaba would frequently visit the Gupta family's infamous Saxonwold compound when he served as minister of public enterprises and that he would receive cash gifts from the Gupta family in exchange for government-related favours.
Gigaba has accused her of using the Zondo Commission to publicly humiliate him.
After an almost two-week-long break, the Commission resumed on Friday with evidence being led against Mahlobo who was guarded in some of his responses, often claiming he was being coaxed into “indirectly” revealing information he was not allowed to.
Mahlobo made an opening statement at the start of the proceedings, saying that he would cooperate but he could not break the law.
"I should not compromise the work of the commission but also unintentionally break the law but at the very same time also ensuring that the tenets of the law around issues of national security and national intelligence are protected,” he said.
Mahlobo refused to divulge details of remedial actions against those implicated in the 2019 Principal Agent Network (PAN) report.
The report found widespread abuse of the country’s intelligence services for political ends. The operation was previously described as a parallel intelligence structure that allegedly squandered nearly R1 billion in state funds over three years and diverted the intelligence mechanisms of the state to former State Security Agency (SSA) director-general Arthur Fraser.
Mahlobo, who is now the deputy minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, said he received a report that had recommendations for remedial actions to which he instructed the accounting officer at that time that those actions must be acted on.
He said that certain aspects of the remedial actions were implemented and “it was an ongoing process”.
“Actions were taken, reports compiled but certain people were not happy,” he said.
Mahlobo told the commission that there were many agencies across the world watching his testimony and were able to observe his demeanour, including his breathing.
“South Africa is very strategic in terms of its location and influence and resources.”
Mahlobo said that there were negative foreign intelligence actors that could negatively impact the state’s ability to govern.
“Nobody is immune from being recruited. They can recruit a president, a minister, a judge. They can recruit as long as they know what kind of information they need,” he said.
Mahlobo also took on SSA witnesses who previously appeared before the commission saying they accused him of stealing money.
“They said I have taken money yet there is no evidence. Where is the paper trail?”
He said that there were people who appeared at the commission and “gotten away with murder” and politicised this commission.
When evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius questioned Mahlobo on a document that showed a list of projects amounting to R130 million and was signed by him on November 16 in 2015, Mahlobo insisted that ministers did not approve projects.
He denied ever issuing instructions regarding the projects, adding that if someone claimed he did issue an instruction, it would be a financial implication and “I cannot ask people to do something that is outside of the law”.
Earlier in the day, Fraser’s lawyer walked out of the commission, protesting that his clients were not informed that they would be implicated.
Rapulane Kgoroeadira placed his objections on the record.
“From the last question, it appears that my clients will be implicated. For the record, we've not received any notice with regards to today's proceedings, we just need to place that on record and for that matter, to the extent that I am here and may be perceived to condone the failure to comply with the rules. I will be leaving now,” said Kgoreadira.