CHIEF Justice Raymond Zondo is demanding R5 million from Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa as security of costs after he launched a challenge to parts of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture’s final report.
The move by Justice Zondo emerged in papers filed at the North Gauteng High Court in Essa’s legal battle against the commission’s adverse findings implicating him in wrongdoing relating to some of the country’s biggest state-owned entities such as power utility Eskom, troubled national carrier SA Airways and rail transport and logistics company Transnet.
Justice Zondo chaired the commission and launched his action against Essa in February this year.
North Gauteng High Court Judge Rean Strydom on August 4 dismissed the commission’s application to have him (Judge Strydom) recused from hearing his (Essa’s) bid to have its report reviewed and set aside.
The commission wants Essa’s main application to review its final report dismissed with costs.
In the alternative, it has asked the High Court to have Essa's review application stayed pending him complying with paying the R5m in security of costs.
”The applicant (Essa) is directed to provide security for the respondents' (commission’s) costs in the review application under the above case number, in the amount of R5m to the registrar of this court within 10 days from the date of this order,” read the inquiry’s court papers.
In the event that Essa does not pay the R5m, the commission wants to be granted leave to supplement its papers and apply for an order for dismissal of Essa's review application.
Essa, who the commission describes as a fugitive from justice, wanted Judge Strydom to be recused as he created a perception of bias against him.
In court, the commission stated that Judge Strydom was biased in favour of Essa, which he denied.
”I have expressed views but have not predetermined the application. My prima facie views expressed are still subject to persuasion and could not have created a perception of bias,” the judge said.
The commission is yet to file its answering affidavit in Essa’s main review application, according to Judge Strydom.
Evidence presented at the commission showed that former Transnet treasurer Phetolo Ramosebudi refused to answer questions relating money from an SAA working capital contract paid to Albatime, the company that introduced Essa to Regiments Capital or a shell company he designated by him.
According to the commission’s final report, fugitive Tony Gupta and his associate Essa were close to then public enterprises minister Lynne Brown and were involved with her selection of a new Eskom board as well as the allocation of board members to different subcommittees.
Former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi testified that Essa sent him a document stating which board committees he had been allocated to and then Brown later sent him a document setting out an identical allocation.
”In addition, Tsotsi testified that he was summoned to Brown’s house briefly and instructed to make allocations as set out in the document that Brown had given him which was the same as the one Tsotsi had received from Essa,” reads the report.
Tsotsi also testified that when he came to Brown’s residence, Tony Gupta and Essa were both present at her house.
The commission also found that Tsotsi was also prepared to sign a certain contract that Essa was pursuing which former Eskom financial director Tsholofelo Molefe refused to sign.
In 2014, Essa informed Henk Bester, a former managing director of Hatch Rail, of erstwhile Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe’s looming appointment to show how connected he was.