Experts say Dudu Myeni's victim card is wearing thin, while her revelation of the identity of Mr X could also result in her ending up in a massive legal quandary
Former South African Airways chairperson Dudu Myeni waded into a legal minefield yesterday at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, violating an order protecting the identity of a witness and then being accused of violating the Act which set up the commission by “willfully”obstructing the work of the inquiry.
Commission chair deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo was flabbergasted when Myeni named Mr X in open testimony (which was live-stream on a number of TV channels), even after he had warned her not to.
He told Myeni: “I am disappointed, I didn’t expect this from you…If somebody disrespects an order that I have made it seems to me that the person disrespects me as well.”
He then adjourned the commission early for lunch, interrupting her evidence, After lunch, he directed that Myeni’s legal representative make submissions to him on the matter before Monday so he can decide what action to take.
Commission evidence leader Advocate Kaye Hofmeyer argued that Myeni should be charged for breaching the commission’s act, because her revelations of the identity of Mr X would deter “future whistleblower witnesses from coming forward”.
Later yesterday afternoon, no video footage could be found of the commission’s proceedings relating to the section on Mr X, indicating that the commission had asked media platforms not to use it. Judge Zondo also repeated to the media that the order prohibiting disclosure of the identity of Mister X was still in force.
Mr X had testified earlier, in camera, about dealings he had with Myeni when she was chair of the Mhlathuze Water Board and how he had left wads of cash for her in her office at her house. Myeni, for the most part, continued to repeat that she would not answer any questions which might incriminate her – but then went on to detail her relationship with Mr X.
Meanwhile, political analysts Roland Henwood, University of Pretoria political lecturer and independent expert Dr Ralph Mthekga, found Myeni’s playing victim, “unhelpful”. Myeni has told Zondo she was being persecuted for her closeness to Zuma.
Said Henwood: “It is a politically populist mechanism for defence and survival, in line with a defence argument we
have seen former president Jacob Zuma putting forward – to disarm your opponents and put them on the backfoot.
“She is playing to the public gallery, trying to gain public sympathy and putting pressure on the commission that they are persecuting her – devictimizing them.
“To some point, you can refuse to incriminate yourself by not answering questions, but at some point, it will boil down to the fact that you had an opportunity to explain and defend yourself, but you did not use it.”
Said Mathekga: “Myeni has enjoyed a lot of privileges because of her association with Jacob Zuma, demonstrated by her having served on various boards of stateowned enterprises, without any qualifications.
“She has enjoyed these privileges because of her personal relationship with Jacob Zuma. “It is nonsensical for her to say she is being victimised for what she has done, while she enjoyed the Zuma privileges.
“She is the one who used her relationship with Zuma to access power by occupying powerful positions.
“This inquiry hearing has to do with her conduct when she was in power and should account to the country about what led to SAA being in the situation it finds itself today.”
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