- Former SAA chair Dudu Myeni failed to appear in person at the Zondo Commission on Tuesday despite a summons to do so.
- It turned out she was on her way to "family engagement" on Tuesday morning instead.
- The commission heard she assumed the matter would be postponed at her request because she claimed she did not get a response from the commission on certain matters in time.
The former chairperson of South African Airways (SAA) Dudu Myeni has failed to appear in person at the Zondo Commission on State Capture.
This is despite a summons from the commission having been served on her to do so.
Her legal representative told the commission that Myeni was informed that she should still appear before the commission, regardless of her intention of asking for a postponement. She is not based in Gauteng and thus asked her legal representative to find out if arrangements can be made for her to testify online or on another date. He said she is certainly not reluctant to appear.
Myeni wants more time to respond to arguments sent to her by the evidence leader regarding her not answering many questions in prior testimony, claiming her right not to incriminate herself.
Zondo asked if arrangements could be made for Myeni to testify via Zoom on Tuesday. Her legal representative said he would have to find out and that a logistical challenge would be her having access to the relevant documents.
Zondo said one could expect that because she knew the summons expected her to be present in person, she would have made herself available via Zoom or some other video conferencing method so the commission could proceed.
Zondo adjourned for a while for Myeni's legal representative to get further instructions.
When contacted by her legal representative during the break, Myeni indicated that she was on her way to a "family engagement" in Port Shepstone and is turning back. Uncertainty remains as to whether she would still be able to testify on Tuesday.
Evidence leader advocate Kate Hofmeyr argued that the question of a postponement would not even have to be dealt with if the commission finds Myeni to be in defiance of a summons, which is a criminal offence.
Hofmeyr said for the past ten days efforts have been made to get the relevant documents to Myeni, but she did not respond.
Hofmeyr argued that Myeni did not submit an affidavit, for example, to support her request for a postponement. The only "explanation" given by her legal representative for her wanting a postponement, is that, when through her attorneys she asked on Friday for the summons to be stayed and she did not receive a response from her attorneys "in time", she assumed she did not have to attend on Tuesday.
"That defies logic. When the summons is in place and Myeni motivates for it to be stayed, and she [even if she] receives no response, it is not sufficient cause simply not to appear. The assumption must be that the summons stands. Furthermore, we are now told this morning she is en route to a family engagement. There is no respect for the summons being taken seriously by her. She was on her way to a family engagement this morning. We are dealing with defiance," said Hofmeyr.
Zondo added that unless someone is unable to attend because they are sick, for example, even if a person thought it is not necessary for them to attend the commission when your counsel applies for a postponement, one would surely make yourself available in case the postponement is not granted.
"If she is on her way to a family meeting, it does not reflect a mind of somebody who sought a postponement, but that you will not comply anyway," said Zondo.
Hofmeyr asked for a criminal charge against Myeni.
Myeni's legal representative in turn claimed his client is not in defiance of the summons. He says he is trying to make practical arrangements to testify online. He claimed Hofmeyr had misunderstood him regarding Myeni's whereabouts on Tuesday morning.
"When I called her during the adjournment, she said she is available. She said she should have been on the road to Port Shepstone, but is on standby and would divert her plans and go straight to her attorney's office in Pietermaritzburg. It was never her intention not to be available," he said. He also denied Hofmeyr's version that he told Myeni to be present and said he had told her attorney to inform her as such.
Zondo responded that, even if she is allowed to give evidence, it does not necessarily mean a criminal charge cannot be laid.
"It is not acceptable that Ms Myeni did not comply with the summons to be at the hearing this morning. From what I have heard, there appears not to have been any valid reason for her not to appear. The secretary of the commission must take steps to lay a criminal complaint with the SA Police Service against her for acting in breach of the summons," Zondo ruled.
He directed that she should make herself available to give evidence on Tuesday as from 14:00, whether it is via Zoom or any other method.