Zondo lays criminal charges against Jacob Zuma for absconding from commission

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  • Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has described former president's Jacob Zuma's actions as a "serious matter" which would have a significant impact on the work of the commission. 
  • Zondo has requested that a criminal complaint be laid against Zuma with the South African Police Service.  
  • He also said the commission would issue fresh summons against Zuma to appear.  

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has requested that a criminal complaint be laid against former president Jacob Zuma.

This comes after Zuma left the commission last week without being granted permission by Zondo, who is the chair.

Zuma left the commission shortly after Zondo had dismissed the request for the judge to recuse himself from chairing the proceedings.

He had accused Zondo of being "biased" and said the two shared a "close relationship", which Zondo denied multiple times.

After Zondo announced his decision on Zuma’s recusal bid, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, who represents the former president, said they would be excusing themselves from the proceedings. 

READ | Duduzane Zuma urges his father to 'do what he needs to do' against Zondo Commission

"The instruction is to review your decision that you've just made when you finally give us a copy," Sikhakhane told Zondo.

He also said they would be laying a complaint with the Judicial Service Commission against Zondo. 

However, the commission's legal team head, advocate Paul Pretorius, said proceedings should continue and that, if they excused themselves from the proceedings, Zuma would be acting in defiance of the summons issued against him. He said it was up to Zondo to decide whether proceedings should continue.

Jacob Zuma appears at the Zondo commission
Former president Jacob Zuma appears at the Zondo commission.

On Monday, at the start of proceedings, Zondo also announced that the commission would order a fresh summons against Zuma to appear before the commission.

The commission would approach the Constitutional Court on an urgent basis for an order, directing the former president to appear and answer questions.

An unhappy Zondo described Zuma's actions as a "serious matter" which would have a significant impact on the work of the commission.

Zondo said Section 6 (1) of the commission's Act 8 of 1947, which deals with attendance of a witness who has been summoned, was "clear". 

ALSO READ | Zuma vs Zondo: Former president's walkout sends a message that he's above the commission - legal expert

It reads: "...any person summoned to attend and give evidence before a commission who without sufficient cause fails to attend at a certain time and place specified in the summons or to remain in attendance until he is excused by the chairman of the commission from further attendance shall be guilty of an offence."

He said: 

It is important that we all remember that the matters in which this commission is investigating and on which it seeks to question Mr Zuma are matters that happened largely when Mr Zuma was president of the republic and had an obligation to account for what was happening during his presidency as the president of the republic.

"The rule of law and public accountability are values that are fundamental to our constitutional order. Also, our constitution promises all of us that we are all equal before the law.

"His conduct may send a message to all other witnesses who might not be comfortable to come and answer questions in this commission that it is the right thing to do for a witness who has been summoned to decide to excuse himself and that witnesses who had been summoned can come and go as they please before the commission. 

READ | Zuma v Zondo: Former president says he'd rather face jail than be 'bullied' by commission

"If that were to happen, this commission would not be able to operate. It is therefore 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," Zondo said. 

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