Advocate Mike Hellens SC on Tuesday told the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that evidence to be heard by the inquiry implicating his as-yet-unnamed client was “wantingly”, “wildly”, and “blatantly speculative”.
The commission will on Tuesday hear evidence from former Free State economic development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana, who is back on the witness stand for a second time.
Hellens’ client could not be mentioned during proceedings ahead of the tea adjournment, however, the client’s name had been mentioned in chambers.
Zondo said though he had gone through Dukwana’s evidence, he had not seen the counter statement made by Hellens’ client.
Hellens told Zondo: “It is incumbent upon this commission, given the sacred duty that it has to investigate responsibly, to present evidence which needn’t be cast iron in nature but must not be wantingly speculative.
“As I stand here, you and I are on national TV and the allegations against my client will be nationally publicised all over,” Hellens said, adding that it was Zondo’s duty to ensure that evidence presented before the commission was not “wildly speculative”.
“Even if my client were to be given the right of cross-examination and demonstrates [evidence] to be untrue, the harm is done by leading speculative and unmeritorious evidence prima facie so,” Hellens said.
Hellens said though there were no issues with the document as a whole, it “is like a running scandal sheet of a person three times removed from the facts”.
Hellens said “in concrete form” his client denied the allegations and said in their statement that they had not been asked to furnish their version of events and had not been interrogated by investigators and that “I tender my bank statements, I tender a complete investigation by the commission with myself personally in attendance and all I ask before you ruin my reputation and my career” is that Dukwana’s evidence implicating the client be postponed.
“There are consequences to this commission acting unlawfully and recklessly,” Hellens said.
Zondo said he would go through the statement by Hellens’ client during the tea adjournment.
Evidence leader at the commission advocate Phillip Mokoena said the inquiry’s legal team would adhere to Zondo’s final decision. However, he noted that the commission should proceed without fear or favour.
Dukwana’s legal representative, Smanga Sithini, concurred that Zondo should go through the statement by Hellens’ client but said the commission should not treat any witness or any persons with “kid gloves”.
Hellens previously represented Ajay Gupta in the latter’s application to cross-examine witnesses who had implicated him before the commission.
Zondo denied the application last year.
Following the tea break, Sithini said Dukwana’s evidence in which Hellens’ client would be implicated dealt with email correspondence between director-generals at government departments and the “asbestos heist” tender in the Free State.
In the email correspondence, Hellens’ client’s name is abbreviated and Sithini said Dukwana would explain to the commission why he was of the view it was Hellens’ client.
Hellens requested that neither the abbreviation, the name, and the designation of his client should be mentioned when Dukwana gives his testimony, a matter which Mokoena said he was comfortable with.