South Africa


Zondo gets hardcore on Zuma, throws every legal lasso, including urgent approach to Constitutional Court

Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo and former president Jacob Zuma.

Judge Zondo puts Jacob Zuma on notice: he will lay a criminal charge against the former President, issue a new summons and seek an urgent ConCourt order to force him to appear before the State Capture inquiry.

The chairperson of the State Capture inquiry, Judge Raymond Zondo, has instructed the commission’s secretary, Professor Itumeleng Mosala, to lay a criminal charge against former president Jacob Zuma for absconding from the hearing to which he had been summoned on Thursday last week. 

His actions were an offence in terms of the Commissions Act of 1947 which criminalises the actions of a person who is summoned to appear and give evidence and who leaves before being excused. 

Also, Zondo will also issue a summons  for Zuma to appear again to answer the 35 witness testimonies which implicated him, and he will seek an urgent order from the Constitutional Court to compel the former head of state to appear.  

Zuma and his legal team exited the Commission without permission on November 19 and claimed to have asked to be excused.  But Zondo disabused this defence. “The summons to attend and remain in attendance was at the time of his departure still valid and binding and had not been set aside.”

A smarting Judge Zondo said: “Mr Zuma’s (conduct) must be dealt with in a manner in which our law provides it must be dealt with. This Commission is clear about what should happen – it remains determined to carry out its function.

“Given the seriousness of Mr Zuma’s conduct and the impact it may have on the work of the Commission and the need to ensure we give effect to the Constitutional provisions that all are equal before the law, I have decided to instruct the secretary to lay a criminal complaint with the South African Police Service so the police can investigate his conduct. The secretary (of the Commission) will make available to the police all relevant (information).”

 The judge said the information on the illegality of Zuma’s absconding would also be made available to the National Prosecuting Authority. 

Zondo said that the secretary would issue a second summons to Zuma to appear before it – the first had brought him to the Commission for an appearance from November 16 to November 20. 

And, the Commission will make an urgent application before the Constitutional Court to “compel Mr Zuma to appear and comply with the summons and when he attends in compliance with the summons (to) not leave without my permission.  The court order to compel Zuma to attend will also seek to ensure that the former president is compelled to comply with Commission regulation that he provides it with affidavits setting out his version of the testimony to respond to the 35 witnesses who have implicated him in various instances of the state capture the Commission is investigating. 

“This Commission is quite clear and those steps will be taken as a matter of urgency,” said Zondo.  

“His (Zuma’s) conduct may send a message to all other witnesses who may not be comfortable to come and answer questions that it is the right thing to do for a witness summoned to excuse himself, (for) witnesses to come and go as they please before the Commission.”

If that were to happen, said Zondo, the Commission would fall apart.  

“The decision by Mr Zuma to leave the Commission without permission is a serious matter – it impacts on the integrity of the Commission, the rule of law and public accountability. The matters this Commission is investigating and by which it seeks to question him happened when he was President of the Republic.

“The rule of law and (of) public accountability are values fundamental to our constitutional order and our Constitution promises that all are equal before the law.  This is a principle of our Constitution (and of) a society built upon the rule of law,” said Zondo. 

Until now, Zondo has bent over backwards to accommodate Zuma’s delays and the Commission has negotiated with the former President’s legal teams to postpone a summons planned for issue in January 2020. 

The commission has, on at least 26 occasions since August 2018, invited Zuma, in writing, to provide his version of events and written to him at least 16 times to find time slots suitable for him to present testimony.  He has been excused when he had to attend a separate corruption case, when he was ill, and last week (November 17) , he was excused to attend a funeral on one day of testimony. DM



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All Comments 14

  • Zuma still thinks he is above the law, his no will lead others to no show and it MUST be dealt with. His lawyer should also face some sort of reprimand.

  • Drag this scoundrel, kicking and screaming to answer for the allegations against him. Let an example be set for all of his ilk that justice will be served for this country. So far and not one step further!

  • It is unbelievable the chances this man has been given. There is no further excuses for him. Time to face the music – he already knows how to dance!

  • Hasn’t he already said that if he were compelled to appear, he would refuse to answer any questions (as his friend Dudu Myeni did)? So after all this, there will still be no outcome. What is Zondo’s recourse then?

    • I think (open to correction), that Zondo can in law draw negative conclusion from witnesses refusing to answer allegations of other witnesses. More crucially: what can Zondo find? Probably that there is abundant basis for criminal prosecution. Which will take longer than Zuma’s remaining hopefully miserable time on the planet to conclude. End of the day, he knows that everybody that matters knows that he was a common thug. Basically the same sentence to ego that Jooste and the Guptas are under. What irks : when do we hold the lawyers that defend these people to the same yardstick?

  • Common sense is often more reliable than knowledge and/or experience.
    Every card in this “game of cards” will run itd its course.
    As a figure of speech, to shuffle the cards means to rearrange, change or reorganise something already established such as an organisation, a policy or a routine………

  • Zuma has wrought misery on millions. It has taken more than a decade ‘I want my day in court’ to face up to the wrongs he is accused of. In Zondo his has met his match where integrity and resolve have won the day. It is just a shame that the law cannot have the billions he has fraudulently dissipated to be redistributed to the starving millions.

  • Time to lay a complaint with the Legal Practice Council about the conduct of his representatives who also appear to have left the hearing with Zuma?

  • Zuma’s counsel (and others or his ilk) should have been ‘dealt with’ a long time ago ! Bringing the practice of law into disrepute, should not be tolerated.

    • I’m no lawyer but I would think that such a brazen act of aiding and abetting your client to commit a criminal offence is also an offence? Should there not automatically be an arrest warrant issued for Sikhakane?

  • “I don’t want to incriminate myself”. Two choices. One. There truly is nothing on which you can incriminate yourself. Two. You may be so good at lying, nothing brought on can bog you down getting out of the mess. Both highly unlikely, so, to me, that looks like an incrimination in itself. A very faint bell rings on this. There was some similar case where it emerged that even issues like this can be dealt with in due court procedure. In the line of Gerrie getting Oscar on a hair thin point of law. Interesting days wait. Very glad Zondo showed his mettle. Hope springs.