Durban - Witnesses testifying in the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, including President Jacob Zuma, will be exempt from prosecution based on the evidence they provide to the inquiry.
The regulations for the inquiry, which were published on Friday, state that "No evidence regarding any fact or information that comes to light shall be admissible in any criminal proceedings".
If witnesses cooperate with the commission and are honest they will not face criminal charges based on their testimony. However, perjury and non-compliance with the commission will open up witnesses to prosecution.
Phephelaphi Dube, director at Centre for Constitutional Rights, in an interview with Jacaranda FM today said section 8 in the regulations undermined the rule of law.
“No one in South Africa should be above criminal sanction.
“Section 8 would open itself up to be challenged because on the face of it it appears to be irrational for there to individuals who would be exempt from criminal prosecution in spite of the fact that there is overwhelming evidence that there is wrongdoing.
Dube said this is an indication that the president is conflicted.
She said the Commissions Act came about in 1947 and it does not reflect constitutional values.
“It does not reflect equality, transparency, openness and a responsive government. It allows the President to make regulations that are more geared towards shielding him.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha told the radio station said criminal proceedings take place in a court of law.
“The idea is not to conflate the two distinct processes.
“As information comes to light at the inquiry the investigative authorities take that into account in compiling their investigations.
“The evidence that will lead to a prosecution will come from the criminal proceedings. You cannot take what emerges from an inquiry and use it as direct evidence in a criminal prosecution.
"However, it does direct investigators in the right places to look for the criminal prosecution."