Zondo vows to take action against those who threaten commission, witnesses
Johannesburg - The chairperson of the state capture inquiry Raymond Zondo says the commission will not hesitate to lay criminal charges against individuals that threaten the commission and the witnesses that appear before it.
Zondo gave a lengthily opening statement at the inquiry on Tuesday seeking to address attacks levelled against the commission and Pavin Gordhan who appeared as a witness last week.
Even though he did not mention them by name, it was clear that Zondo was speaking strongly against comments made by EFF leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu while they addressed the party's supporters outside the commission during a picket.
Malema made various allegations about the commission which include; that the commission was "Micky Mouse Show", that Zondo was presiding over a commission that was stealing from the poor by renting an expensive building to host the commission.
He also called the head of the commission's legal team Advocate Paul Pretorius a "bastard" who was impartial as he had legally represented someone who is linked to Gordhan. Malema also complained that Pretorius was not asking tough questions.
Since the EFF has positioned itself against Gordhan, Malema spoke against him called for him to step down and accused him of being corrupt and allowing his daughter to benefit from government business.
Zondo said the commission has noted these comments and have for now elected not to lay a criminal charge, but he said it has not been ruled out.
"For now, the commission will not be laying any complaints with the police so that it can continue with its work. But the commission will monitor the situation and the conduct of various people in regard to the commission and in regard to witnesses that appear before it. When it considers it appropriate to do so, it will not hesitate to lay a complaint with the police," said Zondo.
The chairperson also said it was important to protect the witnesses that appear before the inquiry and that intimidation hampers the work of the commission.
"Pravin Gordhan came to give evidence in the commission and was prepared to have his evidence tested by way of cross-examination. Anyone who has evidence about his alleged wrongdoing on his part should come forward and present it that evidence," said Zondo.
"I urge all South Africans who are committed to a proper investigation of the allegations of state capture, not to do anything that may jeopardise the prospects of success of this commission's work."
Zondo encouraged members of the public who have issues with some of the members of the commission's legal team, they should bring the evidence before the commission and it would be considered. He said it was counterproductive for people to complain about allegations while they have chosen not to bring the evidence supporting their claims.
"Until evidence is placed before the commission which reflects that anyone of the members of the legal team of the commission has been involved in any misconduct and unacceptable conduct, I as the chairperson of the commission continue to have confidence in the whole legal team including its head Mr Prestorius. I continue to have confidence in the investigative team," said Zondo.
"Any harassment and intimidation of witnesses appearing before this commission, will not be accepted and this commission will continue to look at how it can protect how it will assist those that appear before it."
Zondo also addressed the claims that the commission had chosen to house the inquiry at Tiso Blackstar offices in Parktown instead of using a government venue. He said there are various places that the commission checked before it chose the premises and all the government venues were either unavailable or insufficient to house the inquiry.IOL