Johannesburg - This week marked an important stride in the work of the state capture commission when the Constitutional Court ruled that former president Jacob Zuma was in contempt of court when he failed to appear before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to give evidence.
The Concourt prescribed jail time for the former president.
Justice Zondo held a media briefing where he welcomed the ruling and shed light on other aspects of the Commission, which is drawing to a close soon.
He said the absence of Zuma’s testimony may not be a serious drawback in the commission reaching a satisfying conclusion, but it would have been better if he gave his evidence in full.
So far, the commission heard 418 days of oral evidence, recorded over 71 000 pages of transcripts, and interacted with about 339 witnesses to date.
While the commission’s hefty bill was footed by taxpayers, Justice Zondo said it would have amounted to wasteful and fruitless expenditure if the commission ended abruptly and left its report open to unnecessary legal challenges.
He said that it would also be fair to take into account that through the efforts of the commission’s work, “no less than R864 million had been paid to state-owned entities by McKinsey”.
He told the media that the commission would not provide a provisional report but only a final report, with recommendations.
The commission had applied for the extension to allow for more witnesses to be heard.
While oral evidence was not heard every day this week, a major appearance was that of former ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa. He is now the deputy minister of State Security.
Kodwa insisted that huge cash transfers into his personal bank account and lavish free accommodation in Cape Town were hand-outs from his EOH-executive friend Jehan Mackay and not gifts to buy his influence on government tenders.
He also conceded that he received a R1 million loan from Mackay during a time he experienced financial difficulties.
He said this loan was given to him “with no strings attached” and no deadline to when Kodwa needed to pay back.
He said used R890 000 to purchase a Jeep and that “it was a wisdom of debate” why he’d purchase such an expensive vehicle while experiencing financial difficulties.
The commission previously heard how Kodwa received more than R2m in payments and luxury accommodation linked to EOH.
Managing director of ENS Forensics, Steven Powell told the commission that he conducted an investigation into EOH and, in the process, found payments made to the ANC and individuals linked to the party.
Powell said it seemed that between 2015 and 2016 when the payments were made to Kodwa, three government contracts were issued.
The investigators also found that luxury accommodation was paid for Kodwa’s two-week stay in Camp’s Bay, during the 2015 Christmas holiday, for R230 000 and another stay at a property that cost R50 000 a night.
Former State Security minister Siyabonga Cwele denied the allegations that he stopped an investigation into the Guptas in 2011.
Now appointed as the SA Ambassador to China, Cwele gave testimony virtually this week.
In response to allegations made against him by former State Security boss Gibson Njenje, he said he merely instructed the three State Security Agency seniors, who had initiated a communications interception into the Guptas, to first obtain approval from a judge.
The commission previously heard from former intelligence officials, Njenje and Mo Shaik, of how the two had spearheaded the investigation into the Gupta family because of suspicions of a security threat posed by them.
Njenje corroborated Shaik’s evidence that Cwele had been against the investigation.
But, Cwele remained adamant that he never issued an instruction to stop the investigation into the family.
Norma Mngoma presented as a difficult witness this week when she faced cross-examination by her estranged husband Malusi Gigaba’s legal representative, Advocate Richard Solomon.
She refused to answer some questions related to her educational achievements and often told Solomon that it was not his business to ask.
She also confirmed that she had not properly read her initial affidavit.
Mngoma said if she wrote the affidavit herself, it would have been “better” and looked different from what was submitted to the commission.
Mngoma also told Solomon that the oath was not administered to her before she signed the affidavit.
Zondo interjected and asked if Mngoma was sure about her answer, saying it was “quite serious” for her to not have done so.
Mngoma was asked why she signed an affidavit knowing it contained information that she didn't think was correct.
She said she had to sign the affidavit in a rush because she and her legal team were afraid to hold onto it, believing their lives would be in danger.