Former president Jacob Zuma appears before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Johannesburg. Picture: Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The first part of Tuesday's sitting of the commission of inquiry into state capture ended with a standoff between former president Jacob Zuma's legal representatives and the commission's legal team. 

This as Zuma's legal team took exception with the commission's legal team cross-examining the former president instead of giving his version of events, as he was invited to do.

Advocate Thabani Masuku, on behalf of Zuma, raised his objections to Advocate Paul Pretorius as the latter was leading the former president through former Government Communication Information System (GCIS) CEO Themba Maseko's evidence. 

Maseko told the commission during his testimony last year that Zuma had told the late Collins Chabane, who was minister in the presidency responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation, to make sure Maseko leaves the GCIS after he refused to bow to the Gupta family's instructions.

"We have a duty to raise concerns when we see a development in the manner in which our client is being cross-examined. Essentially what is going on now is that Mr Pretorius is cross-examining Mr Zuma. He's cross-examining him about issues we are not clear about in so far as the terms of reference are concerned. 

"As you recall, Mr Zuma has read this affidavit, we have read it. We took the view that it doesn't implicate the [former] president in any of the terms of reference that this commission is about. That is the attitude we took. 

"Now of course, in your discretion, you decided that the president should come and give his version of events. What is going now is not Mr Pretorius assisting Mr Zuma to give his version of events, what he's doing, he's cross-examining. Which is not a problem if Mr Zuma's attitude had been that there are aspects in the statement of Mr Maseko that implicate him in fraud, corruption and this state capture."

An agitated Masuku insisted that if the commission wanted to cross-examine Zuma, they should have made it clear. 

He questioned how Zuma was expected to recall meetings where he was not present, saying it was "unfair". 

After some back and forth with commission chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and the commission's legal team, Zondo requested a meeting with both teams after the tea break to discuss the matter. 

Zuma's second day at the commission began with a startling revelation, with the former president revealing his life and that of his children was under threat. 

He later denied he'd discussed operational matters with the controversial Gupta family, who'd been implicated in Maseko's testimony, saying the only issues he discussed with the family were of a private nature.

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