Lawyers for former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma and Gupta brothers Ajay and Rajesh have confirmed that they have formally applied for the right to cross-examine former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas at the state capture commission of inquiry.
The move by Duduzane, Ajay, and Rajesh – who are all implicated in damning allegations of state capture – to cross-examine Jonas might, in turn, see them pressured to take the stand at the commission.
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who chairs the commission, is yet to make a decision on whether the commission’s rules allow implicated individuals to cross-examine witnesses and whether they should also appear in person before the commission.
Instead, Zondo ruled on Monday that lawyers wanting the privilege to cross-examine witnesses must submit heads of arguments on Tuesday. A hearing for the cross-examination applications has been set between Wednesday and Thursday.
According to a Sunday Times report on Sunday, Ajay Gupta is not willing to return to SA to testify at the commission but is prepared to give his version via video link from Dubai. The Hawks have described him as a “fugitive from justice” and have threatened to arrest him upon arrival in SA.
Advocate Vincent Maleka SC, who acts for the commission, is pushing for implicated individuals to also be cross-examined and take the stand in person. “The privilege to cross-examine comes with responsibility and they [implicated individuals] should also be cross-examined to test their version of events,” Maleka argued last week.
Meanwhile, Zuma has not formally applied to cross-examine any of the witnesses who implicated him in state capture. Zondo said on Monday that Zuma’s lawyers are “indicating a certain position” for cross-examination. It’s not yet clear what the certain position is.
Lawyers for Jonas have also indicated that they want to cross-examine Ajay and Duduzane.
Jonas was allegedly offered a R600 million bribe by Ajay to become finance minister in October 2015, replacing Nhlanhla Nene, after Duduzane facilitated a meeting between Jonas and Ajay at the infamous Gupta family compound in Saxonwold. In his testimony to the commission, Jonas said Zuma had knowledge that he was offered a cabinet position by Ajay, and was equally complicit with the Gupta family.
Ajay’s other applications
The commission also heard on Monday that Ajay Gupta has also filed a formal application to cross-examine former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor and former top government spokesperson Themba Maskeo. Advocate Mike Hellens SC, acting for Ajay Gupta, said Ajay wants to set out his “version of events and areas of dispute” regarding being implicated by Mentor and Maseko.
In a similar vein to Jonas, Mentor said she was offered the public enterprises minister post in September 2010 – just before Barbara Hogan was ousted – allegedly by Ajay.
Maseko, who until 2011 was the CEO of the Government Communication and Information System, said Ajay pressured him to channel government’s annual R600 million advertising budget to the New Age newspaper and television station ANN7, which were formally owned by the Gupta family.
The commission has also received an application for Jonas to be cross-examined by Hawks major general Zinhle Mnonopi. She wants to cross-examine Jonas about his bombshell revelation at the commission that the Hawks deliberately attempted to sabotage and quash an investigation into Ajay’s R600 million bribe to Jonas.
Jonas testified that Mnonopi asked him in front of his lawyer to sign a prepared statement — which would have closed the investigation —when he reported the bribe to law enforcement officials.
Former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown has also indicated that she wants to cross-examine Jonas.