Commission of Inquiry into State Capture chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond "Ray" Zondo. File photo: ANA/Karen Sandison
Commission of Inquiry into State Capture chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond "Ray" Zondo. File photo: ANA/Karen Sandison

Zondo Commission makes it harder for witnesses to lie, evade questions

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Jan 12, 2020

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Johannesburg - Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has made it more difficult for witnesses before the Commission of Inquiry into state capture to lie and evade questions.

Amendments to the commission’s regulations state that witnesses will no longer be allowed to refuse to answer questions fully and satisfactorily, and obstruct Justice Zondo, the chairperson of the commission, or his staff.

Witnesses who fail to comply run the risk being found guilty of an offence. In terms of the commission’s regulations, witnesses may be cross-examined by a person they implicate only if the chairperson gives permission for the cross-examination - if he deems it necessary and in the best interest of the commission’s functioning.

The new regulations come as the commission’s legal team announced on Friday that it would apply for former president Jacob Zuma to be summoned to appear before Justice Zondo.

The commission, which resumes on Tuesday, will hear its legal team’s bid to have Zuma forced to appear between January 27 and 31.

At his last appearance, Zuma agreed to return to the commission despite accusing it of being involved in a public campaign against him.

Zuma’s lawyers accused the commission of being part of a disinformation campaign and an “unfortunate attempt at instigating the public” against their client.

Attorney Lugisani Mantsha, who represents Zuma, told the commission last year that the former head of state was concerned about its public statements.

Several high-profile witnesses have fingered Zuma in serious allegations of impropriety and malfeasance, including current and former Cabinet ministers Nhlanhla Nene, Fikile Mbalula, Pravin Gordhan, Barbara Hogan and Ngoako Ramatlhodi, among others.

Zuma has also been implicated by other witnesses, including former Cabinet spokesperson Themba Maseko, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor and Ramathlodi’s erstwhile advisor Mahlodi Muofhe.

The commission has previously heard that Zuma offered Muofhe the position of head of the National Prosecuting Authority as he was unhappy with then National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana.

Muofhe has said that he was shocked by the offer but felt honoured, and that he believed that Nxasana was doing a good job but Zuma wanted to fire him for instituting the prosecution of then deputy NDPP Nomgcobo Jiba for perjury.

Former SAA treasurer Cynthia Stimpel testified before the commission that Zuma’s name was invoked in a bid by a representative of financial services company First South to secure a share of a deal to raise R15 billion for the national carrier.

The commission will this week hear evidence relating to the landing of an aircraft ferrying guests to a wedding of members of the controversial Gupta family at Waterkloof Air Force Base.

Justice Zondo will also hear evidence from law enforcement agencies this week.


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