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Zondo Commission to lay criminal charges against Zuma and summons him to appear again

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

THE Zondo Commission is to lay criminal charges against former president Jacob Zuma after he defiantly left the hearing last week without the permission of the chairperson.

Commission chairperson Deputy President Raymond Zondo announced today that charges would be laid by the commission secretariat and all the information and evidence would also be made available to the police and the National Prosecutions Authority.

“It is quite important for the proper functioning of this commission that Mr Zuma’s conduct be dealt with in a manner in which our law provides it should be dealt with. This commission is very clear about what should happen arising out of the events of Thursday and it remains determined to carry out its functions in accordance with the law and the constitution. Given the seriousness of Mr Zuma’s conduct and the impact that his conduct may have on the work of the commission and the need to ensure that we give effect to the constitutional provision that everyone is equal before the law, I have decided to request the secretary of the commission to lay a criminal complaint with the South African Police against Mr Zuma so that the police can investigate his conduct,” Zondo said.

Zondo also announced that new summonses, with new dates, will be issued for Zuma to appear before the commission. In addition an application would be made to the Constitutional court to compel Zuma to attend the commission hearings on the set dates and not to leave without permission.

“The commission is going to take certain steps. One, I am going to determine other dates when Mr Zuma must appear before the commission. Two, the secretary will issue a summons to be served on Mr Zuma to appear before this commission during those dates. Three, the summons will be served on Mr Zuma. Four, the secretary of the commission will make an application to the Constitutional Court, on an urgent basis for the Constitutional Court to issue an order that will compelt Mr Zuma to appear before the commission in accordance with the summons that will be issued. In other words, to comply with the summons and when he attends the proceedings of the commission in compliance with the summons and not to leave the proceedings without my permission. The order that will also be sought, will include an order compelling Mr Zuma to comply with directives that I have issued in terms of Regulations 10 (6) of the regulations of this commission, which were promulgated by Mr Zuma when he was still president,  which require him to furnish certain affidavits to the commission. That is what is going to be done. This commission is quite clear about the steps that will be taken. And those steps will be taken as a matter of urgency,” Zondo said

Four days ago, minutes after his application for the recusal of Zondo was dismissed, Zuma took off without the permission of Zondo.

Earlier, Zondo dismissed an application lodged by former President Jacob Zuma to recuse himself from chairing the judicial commission into state capture.

Zondo said after careful analysis of evidence presented by Zuma’s team he had decided that grounds tabled for his recusal were not sufficient enough for him to step down. 

Zondo dismissed Zuma’s contention that the two of them were friends and that the relationship constituted a conflict. He said the one meeting that Zuma referred to as proof of their evidence of their friendship was in fact an official meeting after he was appointed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to chair the commission. The meeting took place because Zuma, then president of South Africa, had told Mogoeng that whichever judge was selected to chair the judicial commission into state capture must go and see him. The meeting was an official meeting, not a social visit, Zondo added.

Zondo also said there was no sound reason why Zuma raised the issue of their so-called friendship  three years after his appointment as chair of commission. “The applicant can’t be allowed to raise it so late in the day,” he said.

On Zuma’s contention that the witnesses called before the commission were former members of his cabinet with an axe to grind, Zondo said the commission was free to hear testimonies from anyone as long as Zuma was given an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him. 

Zondo said Zuma was provided with a chance to respond to the allegations but stopped attending the commission before his own testimony was completed. He pointed out several unsuccessful attempts by the commission.

The Deputy Judge President also dismissed Zuma’s submission that he had made comments which gave an impression that the former president was guilty of state capture. “The applicant’s contention has no merit. I am entitled and obliged to ask witnesses questions and seek clarity on their evidence,” Zondo said.

Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, for Zuma, said they would appeal the decision and pointed out that his team had a problem with Zondo becoming a “judge in a dispute involving yourself.”

Sikhakhane gave notice that Zuma wanted to be excused from the commission to consider the judgement and gave notice that he would file a complaint with the Judicial Service Commission regarding the judge being a witness and judge in a matter involving himself.

Advocate PJ Pretorious, leader of the evidence at the commission, told Zondo that Zuma’s recusal from the proceedings would be an act of defiance against the summons issued to force him to attend.