Security around Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo may be beefed up in the coming days, following the Constitutional Court’s ruling condemning former president Jacob Zuma to 15 months’ imprisonment.
The scathing judgment on Zuma that resulted in jail time was the conclusion to an urgent application brought by Justice Zondo and the state capture inquiry when the former president ignored a court order and failed to appear at the commission.
Coupled with Zuma claiming the relationship between him and Justice Zondo was “hostile” and the call for war by some of Zuma’s supporters, the state will take steps to ensure appropriate security was in place to protect Justice Zondo and his family.
In a lengthy media briefing yesterday, Justice Zondo said the state was currently “making assessments” and he would not be surprised if his security was “beefed up”.
Justice Zondo, who welcomed the Concourt’s judgment, said despite the many challenges, he always sought to continue to do his work without fear, favour or prejudice.
“It has been difficult for myself and my family but there is a job to be done. I accepted this job and it is a very important job for the country.
“The situation has been difficult for the legal and investigating team as well,” Justice Zondo said.
But, he has no regrets.
“If I was asked to do it again, I would.”
He said South Africa had needed this commission and “someone had to do it”.
“I knew there would be all kinds of problems but I will do it again if I had too,” he added.
Justice Zondo said the ruling was of great importance to South Africa and vindicated the rule of law and supremacy of the country’s constitution.
“We have seen once again, the judiciary stepping forward and doing what the constitution expects it to do.
“One wishes it had never become necessary to reach this point and it is important to remind everybody that the commission was tasked with investigating the allegations of state capture. It heard evidence that various people, including Jacob Zuma, may have been involved in such,” Justice Zondo said.
He said it was the duty of the commission to insist Zuma presented himself to testify.
“We did not just rush to issue a summons or rush to court. The commission did what it had to do when it became quite clear that Mr Zuma was not going to co-operate,” he said.
“Now, the judiciary has done its part.”
Zuma appeared at the commission in 2019 when an entire week was set down to hear his evidence, however following Justice Zondo’s decision to reject Zuma’s application to recuse himself from presiding over the commission, Zuma and his legal counsel walked out.
Despite the absence of Zuma’s full evidence, Justice Zondo said he was satisfied that the commission would make clear findings nevertheless.
The commission is expected to hear evidence from a few more new witnesses in July, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, before compiling its report with findings by September.
The commission has been hearing evidence since August 2018 and has accumulated a massive price tag of almost R1 billion, it was confirmed yesterday.
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 that R864 million had been paid to state-owned entities by McKinsey”.
“The importance of the work by the commission cannot be measured in rands and cents. It’s about strengthening our democracy and accountability.
“The amount has been used reasonably and for important and necessary work,” he said.