Positive Covid-19 official ends Brian Molefe’s state capture testimony
The hearing of former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe was abruptly halted at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Friday after an official who works closely with its chairperson tested positive for Covid-19.
Justice Raymond Zondo announced that Molefe would not continue testifying as a result.
”We are unable to continue. Somebody who works very closely with me has tested positive for Covid-19,” Justice Zondo announced, adding that he would be required to self-isolate.
He continued: “It is unfortunate but it is the reality we are all faced with now”.
Justice Zondo said the commission had no choice but to find ways of how better to handle the situation because it cannot cancel hearings each time somebody who has been working closely with him contracts the deadly virus.
”That will cause a problem for the commission’s work and us finishing within the time that is left,” he warned.
The commission will explore the possibility, if all concerned are available, of continuing with the hearing via video link or Zoom, according to Justice Zondo.
”That assumes that one is not unwell and is okay,” he said.
Molefe’s advocate Thabani Masuku SC initially suggested that the hearing reconvene after five days and promised that he would ensure Molefe is available but a date should not be fixed.
Justice Zondo said the commission would adjourn and if it ended up being able to use sometime next week or not being able to do so, would be fine.
”If it happens next time we will be better prepared but I hope it doesn’t happen,” he added.
Justice Zondo said it would be good if there would be a way of at least using some of the days next week and ensure that there is as little disruption to the hearings as possible, given the limited time that is available.
Meanwhile, Justice Zondo acknowledged former president Jacob Zuma’s letter to the commission, in which he indicated that he would not be testifying next week, as scheduled by the inquiry.
Justice Zondo said the commission was informed by Zuma’s attorney Eric Mabuza on Friday that his client will not be appearing before the commission next week.
In the letter, Mabuza said this should not be seen as disrespect for legal processes but that the former president had launched a high court review application and would wait for it to be finalised first before returning to give evidence.
Zuma also indicated that he was also awaiting the Constitutional Court’s judgment in the commission’s urgent application to force him to respect its summons and answer questions.
The commission was scheduled to have two evening sessions next week for former Eskom director Viroshini Naidoo and former chief executive of Gupta-linked Trillian Management Consultants, Bianca Goodson, to testify.
In the week starting on January 25, the commission is expected to hear evidence relating to state security if Justice Zondo is able to work.