Those fingered in state capture ‘must be forced to testify in person’
Call by Zondo commission’s lawyers may have implications for Gupta family and the Zumas
The legal team of the state capture commission wants to “force” those implicated in state capture to testify and has asked Judge Raymond Zondo to play hardball by placing conditions on applications to cross-examine witnesses.Evidence leader advocate Vincent Maleka SC told Times Select there was a “big chance” that those fingered in evidence may not appear at the commission but merely want to contest witness statements.
“It is not to draw them but force them,” Maleka emphasised.
This could have implications for members of the Gupta family and former president Jacob Zuma and his son Duduzane, all of whom have not yet indicated to the commission whether they will testify, but will be incriminated.
Maleka told Zondo on Monday that those implicated in evidence had an obligation not to merely dispute evidence of witnesses, but to appear in person. He asked the judge to exercise his discretion to “impose conditions” on those wanting to question witnesses.
“We would urge you not only to afford these persons the mere privilege of cross-examination but they must understand that the privilege comes with along with some responsibility; and the responsibility is to undertake to testify orally under oath and that they too become subjected to cross-examination,” Maleka said.
Zondo will hear applications on Tuesday by four people who have already applied to the commission to cross-examine witnesses.Businessman Fana Hlongwane and Hawks anti-corruption head Major-General Zinhle Mnonopi want to cross-examine former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. Former Presidency chief operating officer Lakela Kaunda and another member of the Hawks anti-corruption unit, a Captain Mtolo, want to question former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor about her evidence.
Responding to Maleka’s submission, Zondo asked the legal teams to reflect on the matter since the rules of the commission did not stipulate whether those implicated could only have the right to cross-examine if they themselves testified.
Zondo said the lawyers representing the commission and the various implicated individuals should present arguments on whether it was “good enough” to submit a “bare denial” or whether the commission ought to hear their version. He said the legal teams should also argue whether this choice should be made up front.
Maleka said the commission had received substantive applications from Kaunda, Mnonopi and Mtolo, but not from Hlongwane.
Kaunda made an application to the commission to solicit a concession from Mentor that it was not her who called the former MP to arrange a meeting in Gauteng in 2010. Mentor testified that she flew to Johannesburg after receiving Kaunda’s call as she was under the impression that she would be meeting with Zuma. She met the Gupta brothers instead.
Because of Mentor’s evidence on Monday, where she confirmed that it was Kaunda who called her, the application for a concession would fall away.
Mnonopi and Mtolo’s lawyer, Vincent Siwela, told Times Select that his clients were applying to cross-examine but he had no instructions yet as to whether they were prepared to testify.