Zuma did not get preferential treatment at State Capture Inquiry, says Zondo
Johannesburg - Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo has denied assertions that former president Jacob Zuma has received “preferential treatment” from the state capture commission.
Zondo, who chairs the commission, said he treats "everyone equally and with respect”.
He was addressing the media on Thursday at briefing regarding the extension the commission seeks from the high court.
Zuma was scheduled to appear at the commission from this week but his legal representatives told Zondo that he was too ill to appear. This was not the first time that Zuma had cancelled an appearance at the inquiry.
He was due to appear last November and also cited his ill-health as a reason why he could not appear. The former president made an appearance at the inquiry in July and denied the allegations that he had allowed to the Gupta family to capture the state.
He said he has always faced a political campaign to smear his name. Zondo said if Zuma does not appear the commission would still issue its report, but he said it would be more preferable to have a perspective from all implicated parties.
He said the justice department was working on the issue of extraditing the Gupta family.
“People mustn't think that because the Guptas may not give evidence that it is a waste of time. We will not stop this important commission.”
Zondo also addressed the issue regarding the commission's estimated time of completion. The inquiry began in August 2018 and was scheduled to run for six months. Zondo approached the High Court early last year seeking the first extension until February 2020. And now he approached the High Court again seeking another extension until December 2020.
He said the application is likely to be heard on February 11, and that if the application was not granted the commission was unlikely to issue findings and it would be a disaster.
“There has been a lot of investigation since then and we have realised that time would not be enough and that is why asked for an extension. When we applied for more time we looked at the work that has been done and the work that needs to be done. We cannot not investigate issues that fall into the terms of reference,” Zondo said.
“The commission's lifespan goes up to February this year unless the court grants this commission an extension. We have applied to the court for the extension of its lifespan, but we do not take the attitude that the court will grant us the extension just because we have asked for it," said Zondo.
Zondo declined to disclose how much the commission has cost since it began, he said he has a number but a media statement would be issued at a later date explaining the costs.