South Africa


Zuma’s failure to appear before State Capture Inquiry is illegal, says Zondo 

Former president Jacob Zuma (left) and Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Photos: EPA / Jon Hrusa | Gallo Images / Veli Nhlapo)

The former president was a no-show on Monday even after a Constitutional Court order compelled him to appear before the State Capture commission. 

Former president Jacob Zuma dodged his appearance on Monday before the State Capture inquiry, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Judge Raymond Zondo, and took refuge at his Nkandla homestead protected by the MK Military Veterans Association dressed in fake camo.  

Instead, his lawyers sent a two-page letter to the commission at the 11th hour, which Zondo and the commission’s head of legal Paul Pretorius said lacked all substance in law. Pretorius said the summons served on Zuma could only be set aside by a court and that he could not choose whether to appear or not. 

Zuma’s lawyers said he would not appear because the Constitutional Court is due to hear his application for Zondo’s recusal and that the summons issued for his appearance this week (February 15 to 19) was illegal.  

“If the summons was irregular, the law obliged him to approach a court and ask that it be set aside on the basis that it was irregular. You can’t ignore a summons because it was irregular,” said Zondo. 

In February, Zuma said in a personal social media statement that he would not appear and that he regarded the Constitutional Court’s judgment as “their law” and not applicable to him.   

Pretorius said Zuma’s non-appearance was illegal and that he should have appeared before the commission to express his opinion.  “Any valid reasons do not justify the failure to appear today,” said Pretorius, who said that at least 40 witnesses had implicated Zuma in instances of State Capture in the three years in which the commission has sat. 

Both Zondo and Pretorius referred to Zuma’s statement and said it was clear that he would not appear even after being compelled to do so by the Constitutional Court. “That seems consistent with his conduct before this Commission on November 19. He left at a time when it had been made clear that to leave the commission without the chairperson’s consent would be a breach of the summons,” said Zondo.  

The judge will decide what happens when the commission resumes on Monday afternoon.

“We are very clear about what needs to be done. Our law is not deficient in this regard,” said Zondo.

Zondo can issue a warrant for Zuma’s arrest or instruct that the police issue such a warrant. The commission laid contempt of court charges against Zuma at the Hillbrow police station in December, and the Hawks specialist police unit took over that case. 

Pretorius said that as captain of the ship of state, Zuma’s evidence was necessary but not essential for Zondo to make a finding of State Capture as set out in the commission’s terms of the reference. He summarised at least 43 different areas he wanted to canvas with Zuma in this week’s hearings.  DM



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Con Tester says:

    In response to Zuma’s petulant insubordination, Zondo will approach the ConCourt directly to impose a prison sentence on JZ for contempt of court.

    The ConCourt urgently needs to come to the party here with alacrity, zeal, and vigour, because anything short of swift and appropriate punishment will be a signal to others that defiance of the law in SA is okay.

    • Liesl van Wyk says:

      But what is Zuma’s gameplay here? Did he perhaps make the mistake of thinking that the commission would again go through the police like last time? Will the ConCourt now subpoena him to show up in court for the charges – or will he be arrested to force him to show up in court? It seems that Zuma is forcing our courts’ hands to arrest him. Indeed very surreal to watch.

      • Con Tester says:

        See Haffejee’s subsequent report to this one, published a few minutes ago.

        If I had to guess, I would surmise that JZ arrogantly assumed Zondo would fold and meekly continue to treat him with kid gloves so that he could carry on dragging things out until the Commission was done calling and hearing witnesses. Maybe his ego was so stroked by the presence of over 200 MK “veterans” outside his Nkandla homestead, supposedly to defend him against any police action, that he got some extra testosterone flowing through his veins.

        • Nicholas Dowling says:

          If someone as high profile as Jacob Zuma is allowed to ignore court rulings, then ordinary citizens will have a right to ignore them as well. I will hold our courts in contempt if they do not treat him as the law requires.

      • R S says:

        He either hoped to call out Zondo’s bluff, or is willing to go to jail rather than share the truth about his role in state capture. I think he would rather be seen as a “RET champion” in jail even if it’s a complete lie, than admit that he is a thief.

  • Malcolm Kent says:

    I see a large number of those parading at Nkandla in support of Zuma were not wearing masks or observing social distancing. As we are continually being reminded not wearing a mask in public is an arrestable offence. So where was the police presence? If a warrant is issued for Zuma’s arrest who will execute it? This is looking more like armed insurrection or civil war rather than someone not complying with a summons. Zuma knows he is guilty & is using every means at his disposal to remain at large. Who has the will to do what is necessary?

  • Sergio CPT says:

    Hear, hear Nicholas! If this obnoxious scumbag and arch-crook is allowed to get away with it, then every citizen has the right to be in contempt of court. A precedent will have been set! The authorities have better get really serious about charging/jailing zupta as they will be opening a Pandora’s box, which will be nigh impossible to close. This country is already lawless!

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