The State Capture Inquiry will file papers with the Pretoria high court to ask for a three-month extension, as six more witnesses and President Cyril Ramaphosa still need to testify before the commission’s final report can be written.
Inquiry chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo made the announcement on Thursday morning as oral evidence resumed.
Zondo said as things stood, “subject to one qualification” all oral evidence should be wrapped up by the end of June. However, that qualification is that six witnesses and President Cyril Ramaphosa would still need to provide oral evidence before the June deadline.
This means that if the extension is granted the president won’t appear before the end of June, but rather in early July. Zondo said Ramaphosa would give evidence in his capacity as ANC president and president of South Africa. Ramaphosa previously testified at the end of April 2021. (Read Ferial Haffajee’s synopsis of Ramaphosa’s testimony here).
Zondo said the president will rather appear after the six additional witnesses. “It’s proper that the president must be the last person to give evidence,” said Zondo.
“Of course, if the high court does not allow the extension, that will be that,” said Zondo.
The inquiry will apply to the high court for an extension until September 2021 to allow for the witnesses to provide evidence until early July and for the inquiry’s report to be prepared by the end of August. Zondo said the inquiry would apply for the extension until September, “in case we don’t complete the report in August”.
This is not the first time the inquiry has applied for an extension with the courts. In February 2020, the inquiry was granted a 13-month extension until March 2021 — which was supposed to be the final deadline for work to be completed. In February 2021, the inquiry was granted an extension until June 2021 to complete its work.
(See a report by Rebecca Davis, published in January 2020, ahead of the first requested extension: Where to the for the Zondo Commission in 2020)
Addressing the public, Zondo said “I know that some within the public have grown impatient, demanding the Commission complete its work”. Zondo said he was very keen on completing the work of the inquiry, which started in August 2018.
“I will not end the work of the commission in an irresponsible manner just because I want to satisfy those that demand the commission complete its work,” said Zondo, who added that he wanted the inquiry to complete its work in a methodical manner that provided fairness to those implicated in wrongdoing.
Zondo said he wanted to be able to look back at the work of the inquiry with the assurance that “we acted properly and acted responsibly”.
The inquiry continues on Thursday with former Transnet chief finance executive Anoj Singh testifying and former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba testifying in the evening session. DM
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