#StateCaptureInquiry: 'Harassment, intimidation' of witnesses unacceptable - Zondo

2018-11-27 15:30

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has put his foot down as the chairperson of the state capture commission of inquiry, strongly condemning attacks on the commission's work and on witnesses who appear before it.

"Any harassment and intimidation of any witness appearing before the commission will not be acceptable," Zondo said on Tuesday.

"If witnesses and the legal team are intimidated from doing this service, it will deter others and undermine the work of this state capture inquiry commission.

"I therefore urge all South Africans to desist from such behaviour. It does not help the commission or this country."

Zondo was responding to the Economic Freedom Fighters' (EFF) protests outside the inquiry venue.

EFF leader Julius Malema launched a scathing attack on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, who was testifying at the time.

He called Gordhan "corrupt" and "a dog of white monopoly capital".

He also claimed Gordhan hated black people. He provided no evidence for his claims.

Malema also made claims about contracts involving Gordhan's daughter, Anisha, saying they were allegedly awarded by National Treasury and other government departments, seemingly as a result of her father's position in government.

But Gordhan strongly denied that his daughter did business with the State. A News24 investigation revealed that Malema's claims about Anisha were false.

Malema also spoke about the party's disapproval of the Zondo commission venue – the Tiso Blackstar building, the headquarters of the Sunday Times, Business Day, Financial Mail and Sowetan.

Malema said the commission should have sought a government building instead of using Tiso Blackstar's premises.

However, Zondo said he initially wanted a government building but was told none were available or suitable.

Zondo also said the commission would not lay any complaint with the police regarding attacks on witnesses, however, it would not hesitate to lay complaints if necessary.

"This commission will not consider what is said outside of the commission and in the media," Zondo said. He also pointed out that Gordhan gave his evidence voluntarily and was prepared to have his evidence tested.

Speaking outside of Brooklyn police station in Pretoria East after laying charges against Gordhan, Malema said the Zondo commission did not mean the closing of politics in South Africa.

"We will continue to criticise politicians whether they go to the commission or not. The commission was not established to close politics in South Africa," Malema said.

"Commission is not Parliament, Commission we respect it, it must do its work uninterrupted and no one must intimidate witnesses before the commission but that does not mean politics are over in South Africa."

"No one, not even the Zondo commission can stop us from criticising politicians," Malema said as a crowd of supporters cheered him on. 

Malema also spoke about his comments on Gordhan as he was testifying before the commission.

"Pravin as he appears in the Zondo commission, he doesn't cease to be a politician. He can never take leave from himself. He will be criticised even when in the stand because he doesn't cease to be who he is, which is a politician."

The EFF leader also said that if their criticism of Gordhan contravenes the laws that govern the commission, he is prepared to be charged.

"They can charge us and take us to prison but we won't stop doing our work. Our work is to expose corruption and corrupt politicians even when  they appear before the commission."

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday, former GCIS head Mzwanele Manyi asked for evidence leader Vincent Maleka to recuse himself, saying he was treated unfairly and that he was "disappointed by his conduct".

However, Manyi soon made an about-turn and told the commission that he did not wish to continue with the recusal application.

"I don't want to frustrate the work of the commission," Manyi said.

"I can assure Mr Manyi that I did not appoint myself to this commission. We are governed by strong rules of ethics," Maleka had said.

Maleka also said it would be a "sad day" if witnesses who appeared before the commission chose who should lead them.

Read more on:    eff  |  raymond zondo  |  mzwanele manyi  |  julius malema  |  pravin gordhan  |  johannesburg  |  state capture  |  state capture inquiry
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