South Africa 13.9.2018 10:55 am

Duduzane can cross-examine Jonas, Guptas can only participate in SA

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo returns from the recess during the first day of proceedings at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture held in Johannesburg, 20 August 2018. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo returns from the recess during the first day of proceedings at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture held in Johannesburg, 20 August 2018. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Justice Zondo has ruled that the Guptas’ requests to testify remotely would be unfair to witnesses who have been willing to do so person and would undermine his powers.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has ruled that former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma will be allowed to cross-examine Mcebisi Jonas.

Zondo also ruled that while the Guptas may cross-examine witnesses, including Jonas, ex-MP Vytjie Mentor and fired government spin doctor Themba Maseko, they must do so in South Africa.

Two of the Gupta brothers had suggested that either the commission should travel to an overseas location where they could safely testify or that their testimonies should be done via video link.

Zondo rejected both suggestions, saying about the former that he sees no reason why the commission should incur the costs of travelling to a location outside of the country for the brothers to appear before the commission.

Zondo said he was of the view that the Gupta brothers had no lawful or valid reasons for not appearing before the commission.

The Guptas had argued through their legal counsel that they had no intention to return to South Africa, alleging that the incompetence of the Hawks would lead to their arrest and the National Prosecuting Authority would criminally charge them.

Regarding the suggestion that the Gupta brothers testify at the commission via video link, Zondo said that because the two were in a different country they could not be compelled by the commission to produce documents required, and so the commission would not be able to exercise its power.

READ MORE: State capture proceedings postponed until further notice

Zondo said that according section 6(2) of the Commissions Act, giving false evidence at a commission is a criminal offence and since the act cannot be applied outside of South Africa’s borders, the Guptas would be exempted from this.

The commission’s chair said that allowing the Guptas to testify via video link would also create two classes of witness, one who could face criminal prosection for giving false evidence while physically and personally appearinig before the commission, and those exempt from this because they would testifying outside of the country.

Zondo said if the two men changed their minds about physically and personally appearing before the commission within South Africa’s borders then the commission would willing change its ruling and grant them leave to cross-examine witnesses.

He added that testimony given at the commission thus far seriously implicated Ajay Gupta, which is why he was of the view that he should be granted an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.

Earlier in the week, the deputy chief justice requested that the Guptas file affidavits and motivate their stance for why they could not return to South Africa.

Jonas, Maseko, and Mentor gave explosive testimony at the commission, implicating the Guptas, Zuma and Duduzane in the state capture saga.

Another witness, acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams, testified how former communication minister Faith Muthambi disregarded procurement rules and sought to “steal at all costs” by directing government advertising spend to Gupta-owned media outlets.

The Zondo-led commission is investigating allegations of undue influence the controversial Guptas had over Zuma, his cabinet ministers and leaders at state enterprises to do their bidding for state tenders worth billions of rand.

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