Commission probing state capture adopts hardline stance against ex-president Zuma

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

A special judicial commission set up to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption and the capture of the state by corrupt individuals, civil servants and politicians is taking steps to force former South African President Jacob Zuma to appear before it.

Deputy Judge President Raymond Zondo, head of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, disclosed today, the day that Zuma was scheduled to appear, that he will hear an application from the commission’s legal team to issue summonses against Zuma.

This comes after Zuma wrote to the commission and said he would not be able to appear because of advice from his doctors, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Zuma said he also wanted to take legal advice on the amendment of the commission’s amended terms of reference.

Commission chair Zondo today announced that he will, on October 9, hear the application for summonses to be issued against Zuma. 

Zondo said: “Previously I determined that today, up to Friday, would be a week when the former president Mr Jacob Zuma would appear before this commission. He was notified thereof and after some time his attorneys wrote to the commission and said that he would not be appearing before this commission during this year. The reasons they gave include that he was busy preparing for his criminal trial, that his doctors have advised him to limit his movements because of his age and COVID-19 and that he was seeking legal advice on the implications of the recent amendments of the regulations of this commission. I do not want to comment at this stage on his reasons for him deciding why not to appear before this commission this week. The media have sent a number of inquiries regarding him, including questions such as whether this commission will consider issuing a subpoena to compel him to appear before it and whether the other dates which have been determined when he should appear.

“I decided, after the commission received his response, through his attorneys, to fix the date for the hearing of the commission’s legal team’s application for an order authorising the issuing of a summons against Mr Zuma. I have determined that that date will be the 9 October at 9am. He and his lawyers have been informed that unless I am satisfied on that date that there are good grounds for them not to appear, if they don’t appear that application will proceed without them. They have been informed that should they wish to make use of a virtual appearance before the commission and if they informed the commission timeously, arrangements will be made for them to appear virtually before the commission but that application will proceed with or without them unless I am satisfied that there are good grounds for them not be to here.”

The Deputy Judge President also announced that he has determined new dates – November 16 to 20 – for Zuma to appear before the commission.

Zondo said he had rejected a request from Zuma’s lawyers that new dates for the former president’s appearance must be negotiated with them. 

“No dates will be negotiated with them or with him. The commission has made it clear to the attorneys who represented him before that this commission does not negotiate dates with witnesses. The commission fixes the dates and people are supposed to appear and if they have got good grounds for not appearing then they make the necessary application and show that they have good grounds. If I am satisfied that there are good grounds then other dates will be determined but we will not negotiate dates with witnesses,” Zondo said. 



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