- SAA board chair Dudu Myeni is in hot water for mentioning the name of a person she assumes to be the mysterious Mr X who testified before the Zondo Commission in February this year.
- Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo had ruled that Mr X's identity must not be revealed as he feared for his safety.
- Myeni claims she was not really aware of mentioning the name when she did so.
The former South African Airways (SAA) board chair Dudu Myeni is in hot water after she mentioned the name of a person she assumes to be the mysterious Mr X who testified before the Zondo Commission in February this year.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo had ruled at the time that Mr X's identity should not be revealed. Zondo was convinced that Mr X feared for his safety as well as that of his family. The commission's act makes it an offense for a person to willfully obstruct the commission.
On Friday the civil society watchdog Right2Know Campaign said in a statement it is "appalled" by the conduct of Myeni at the commission.
"Myeni has placed an important whistle blower in harm's way. The chilling effect on our democratic South Africa needs courageous whistle blowers now more than ever," R2K stated. "We reiterate the call for protecting the commission from attacks by a few individuals and for the commission to be empowered to carry out its work unabated..."
It called on the commission to do what is necessary within its powers and regulations to deal firmly with anyone attempting to undermine its integrity and to take firm action against Myeni for breaching the commission's regulations.
Evidence leader adv. Kate Hofmeyr had hardly started questioning Myeni on a period of time when she was the chair of Mhlathuze Water when Myeni mentioned the name of a person she assumed to be Mr X, regardless of having been cautioned by Zondo shortly before that about his ruling regarding Mr X's anonymity.
In February this year, News24 reported that Mr X claimed his company received more than R3 million between October 2015 and February 2016 from a corporation owned by Myeni's son Thalente. Mr X said Myeni called him after those deposits were made and instructed him what to do with the money. Mr X claims she asked that cash be withdrawn and made available to her and also that some of it be paid to the Jacob Zuma Foundation.
"I am disappointed that you did this, especially after I said I made an order that his identity should not be revealed," Zondo told Myeni. "From yesterday my impression was you respect the work of this commission and if you disrespect the work of the commission, you disrespect me as well."
Zondo said that what Myeni did is something that seems to him would discourage other witnesses who want to give evidence before the commission when they fear for their safety or their lives. This would seriously undermine the work of the commission.
"I feel bad about this, as I do not mean to disrespect the commission or the chairperson. There was an emotion that went with [mentioning the name] - feeling betrayed," Myeni told Zondo, hinting that she was not really aware of mentioning the name when she did. "I did not intend to say anything untoward."
Myeni's legal team indicated that they want to bring a formal submission about her breach of the commission's rules. Zondo gave them until 10:00 on Monday to do so, after which he will rule on what should happen to her for that breach.
* This article was updated with the reaction by R2K.