One more year for Zondo commission and no more extensions - High Court

2020-02-24 18:09
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Phill Magakoe, AFP)

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Phill Magakoe, AFP)

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The commission of inquiry into state capture may have got its extension but there will be no more. 

Judge Wendy Hughes of the Gauteng High Court, sitting in Pretoria, granted the commission its final extension on Monday, citing that "further extensions would not be warranted".

"The interest of justice dictates that finality be attained with findings, recommendations and a report of the commission. The commission owes this to the nation as the work of the commission is of national interest," Judge Hughes said in her judgment.

This after it approached the High Court on February 11 in an unopposed application, seeking an extension on its lifespan from March 2020 to December 2020.

During arguments, the court heard that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo believed two possible solutions would confine the work of the commission: Approaching the Presidency for an amendment of the terms of reference or referring evidence to other bodies.

READ: State capture inquiry: Zondo mulls farming out aspects of investigation to other state institutions

While the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) indicated it was in full support of the application - it did, however, have one request, that this be the final extension.

Casac argued that Judge Zondo's approach to seek amendments from the president was not necessary as "it is in the chair's discretion" and referring evidence to other bodies for investigation was something the commission could currently undertake.

ALSO READ: Casac argues Justice Zondo can amend state capture commission's terms of reference

Judge Hughes, in her judgment, believed the applicant would not be prejudiced by the final 13-month extension as it was in respect of the case made out by the applicant.

"I do not believe so, as the period granted in respect of the extension was the case made out by the applicant in his papers. If the applicant anticipated a longer period, he would have sought same," she explained.

"In addition, the applicant has already advanced various ways to curtail and limit the scope and terms of reference of the commission. There would thus be no prejudice endured by the applicant or the commission."

As a result, Judge Hughes (in summary) made the following order:

  • The case is urgent and, to the extent necessary, dispensing with the ordinary forms and notices.
  • The period of 180 days is extended by a period of 13 months from March 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021.
  • President (Cyril) Ramaphosa is directed to amend the proclamation accordingly.
  • Each party is to pay their own costs.

The commission has cost taxpayers approximately R356m since it officially started on August 20, 2018 and has heard allegations from a long list of witnesses.

It has sat for more than 190 days, the transcripts of evidence recorded were more than 27 000 pages long and there were more than 450 000 pages of exhibits including statements, etc - and counting, News24 reported. 

Read more on:    raymond zondo  |  state capture inquiry

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