Legal expert weighs in on Norma Mngoma’s testimony at Zondo Commission
GAUTENG – It was no surprise why former finance minister Malusi Gigaba made a strong attempt to block his wife from testifying at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture after she made explosive revelations on Monday night.
Norma Mngoma told the commission that her husband was a servant of the Guptas and their lavish lifestyle was mostly funded by the infamous family.
However, before her testimony, Mngoma made a plea to have her evidence delayed until she was able to supplement her affidavit. She claimed that some aspects of her original affidavit had been added and edited by evidence leaders in the commission and were not of her personal knowledge.
Although Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo did not dismiss the application made by Mngoma’s legal team, he suggested that due to the pressure of time on the commission, she should continue to give evidence and where parts of her affidavit needed to be changed, she could notify the commission as she testified.
Legal expert advocate Mfesane Ka-Siboto said that while typically Mngoma would have been given the opportunity to supplement her affidavit, the commission was under pressure to conclude proceedings due to cost and time.
“It was a good option and the best practical way to move ahead under the circumstances. Ms Mngoma is still entitled to supplement her affidavit before her next appearance,” Ka-Siboto said.
Mngoma, through her legal representative advocate Mpati Qofa, said that she was only present at the commission on Monday evening because she was summoned to appear.
Qofa read a letter to the commission before her client's appearance stating that Mngoma raised a plethora of issues that concerned her and when she received little assistance and protection from the commission, she decided to safeguard herself. She said an impression had been wrongly created that Mngoma was reluctant or refused to co-operate with the commission.
The main issue was related to her affidavit being leaked to the media.
"Our client’s first affidavit was leaked to the media and she brought her dissatisfaction with this to the attention of the commission. This aspect exacerbated our client’s security concerns," Qofa said.
"Our client has not heard from the Commission in this regard, nor has she been offered any form of security or the courtesy of an explanation for the failure to do so.
"Our client also highlighted to the commission her discomfort about the commission’s sharing of her affidavit with Ajay Gupta without informing her or her legal team. It was mentioned that Ajay Gupta was implicated, but he has not been in the country since the commission started and there was no basis to share the affidavit with him," Mngoma’s legal team said.
In the totality of the circumstances, Qofa said they were of the firm view that the conduct of the commission towards Mngoma had been “abusive".
During her testimony, Mngoma claimed that the Gupta family heavily influenced the appointments and service contracts.
She told the commission that through the Guptas and her husband, even she was made aware of major appointments at state-owned enterprises months before it happened.
She further claimed that Ajay Gupta gifted Gigaba a white three series BMW, a gold necklace for their first-born son, bags of cash and even cash for their wedding. She said they often visited the Guptas Saxonwold compound and would often leave with bags of cash.
Mngoma also told the commission that her husband shared a friendly relationship with former Transnet chief executive Siyabonga Gama to the extent that he was able to secure a job at the parastatal for his sister.
Mngoma said she and her husband were also invited to the infamous Gupta wedding at Sun City and the welcoming party at the Waterkloof Air Force Base for the family.