'This could have been avoided' - Zondo halts Lebeya's testimony after questioning the nature of his evidence

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo (PHOTO: Netwerk24)
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo (PHOTO: Netwerk24)

The testimony of Hawks boss Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya at the state capture inquiry has been halted, after questions were raised about whether his evidence falls under the commission's terms of reference.

Lebeya was expected to testify about alleged ill-treatment and sidelining in the South African Police Service (SAPS).

But commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, is concerned about whether the commission's legal team applied their minds to the content of his statement and whether the evidence was part of the terms of reference of the commission.

"If one reads that what is in his statement is true, he was treated very badly and sidelined in various ways in the SAPS, but what seems to be lacking is a clear connection with the ill treatment or being sidelined with the terms of reference of the commission.

"The way that he was treated, does it fall in the terms of reference? Was it corruption, was it fraud, was it state capture? Not everything that is wrong falls into the terms of reference," he said to evidence leader, advocate Susan Wentzel, on Thursday.

Zondo asked Wentzel whether investigators had done their homework.

"Is it not premature to hear his evidence? Has there been proper investigation of the issues that are dealt with in this statement, as this investigation might actually bring about things that will connect what was done to him properly within the terms of reference of the commission?

"There are a number of things that could be asked," Zondo added.

Wentzel indicated that while further investigations were not carried out, she consulted with the witness on Thursday morning and raised this concern.

Zondo not pleased

She accepted that more investigation could have been done.

Zondo, who was not pleased with the turn of events, urged the legal team to do the necessary homework before setting aside a day for the evidence to be heard.

"If someone applied their mind to this statement, this could have been avoided. We are now going to lose a day and every hour counts. This type of homework must be done before," he told the evidence leader.

The evidence of Lebeya was halted for further investigation.

This is the commission's second blunder this year.

On Wednesday, controversial Durban businessman Thoshan Panday claimed he had been prejudiced after the commission sent him the wrong annexures.

The documents intended for him, were erroneously sent to his mother, News24 previously reported.

Panday was implicated in the evidence of retired colonel Johannes van Loggerenberg regarding the alleged capture of law enforcement agencies.

READ: Controversial Durban businessman Thoshan Panday tells Zondo commission he feels 'prejudiced' after annexure mix-up

The commission continues on Monday.

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