#StateCaptureInquiry: Zondo raises concerns over Guptas' refusal to return to SA

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Alex Mitchley, News24)
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has expressed concerns over the Gupta brothers' application to cross-examine witnesses from abroad.

Advocate Mike Hellens, SC, for Ajay Gupta told the commission on Thursday that his client was willing to testify and wanted to cross-examine witnesses from a location outside South Africa. 

Hellens claimed that the Gupta brothers were worried about possibly being arrested if they returned to South Africa, labeling the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority "recklessly incompetent and a national embarrassment".

READ: #StateCaptureInquiry: Duduzane Zuma subjected to unlawful arrest – lawyer

However, Zondo, who chairs the commission, accused the Guptas of wanting to enjoy the benefits of South Africa's legal system without subjecting themselves to its processes.

"How do you tell a body such as this one that you want to participate, but participate on your own terms?" Zondo asked.   

"They are the ones who on their own version have taken themselves outside of this process. If they don't get granted leave to cross-examine it is because of their own decisions to leave the country and decision to say 'we are not coming back because we have no faith in the legal system of South Africa'." 

Earlier on Thursday, advocate Vincent Maleka argued that the "type of undertaking made by the Gupta brothers is not worth the promise that it is made of [and] not worth the paper that it is on because they may wake up one day and decide they are not going to subject themselves to this communication".

Limited powers outside SA

Maleka said it was possible that when being asked questions, they might opt to disengage and that Zondo would have no powers to compel them to answer questions. 

Maleka said Zondo's powers were limited because he had no jurisdiction outside of the country.

He also raised concerns over the Guptas' proposal to testify abroad and that it was convenient for the brothers but not for the commission.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions and we don't want to risk that road," Maleka argued. He added that the Guptas wanted to make use of the commission's processes to "proclaim and advance their innocence".

READ: #StateCaptureInquiry: Mnonopi withdraws application to quiz Jonas

Meanwhile, Hellens insisted that his client had the right to cross-examine witnesses, adding that the power of cross-examination lay in the element of surprise. 

He also told Zondo that if the Guptas did not testify, then the commission would have a "limping conclusion". 

"Mr Helens, you say for cross-examination to be effective there must some element of ambush?" Zondo asked.  

Hellens replied: "You use the word 'ambush', but it is not really, it is not really an ambush."

Hellens said the commission's job was to find the truth and decide if there was indeed state capture. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
13% - 222 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
23% - 389 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 1048 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.38
(+0.35)
ZAR/GBP
20.55
(+0.14)
ZAR/EUR
18.39
(+0.18)
ZAR/AUD
11.33
(+0.21)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.41)
Gold
1785.88
(+0.42)
Silver
22.86
(+0.98)
Platinum
983.00
(+1.86)
Brent Crude
47.66
(-0.77)
Palladium
2383.01
(+1.45)
All Share
57091.89
(-1.26)
Top 40
52375.50
(-1.22)
Financial 15
11158.56
(-3.62)
Industrial 25
78965.65
(-1.16)
Resource 10
52703.42
(-0.19)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo