Former president Jacob Zuma’s walkout at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture last week has landed him in the commission chair’s dogbox.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has instructed the secretary of the commission to report the matter to the SA Police Service so that criminal charges may be instituted against Zuma for his conduct.
Zuma and his legal team walked out of the proceedings after Zondo dismissed the former president’s application for the commission’s chair to recuse himself. Zuma claims that he and Zondo had a close personal or professional relationship, or that the deputy chief justice’s conduct indicated bias against him.
Following the dismissal, Zuma’s senior counsel, Muzi Sikhakhane, told Zondo last week that they planned to report him to the Judicial Service Commission for allegedly acting as “a witness and a judge” in the inquiry.
On Monday, Zondo said Zuma’s walkout “impacts on the integrity of the commission, the rule of law and public accountability”.
Zondo said the commission would determine other dates for Zuma to appear before the commission to answer questions on various matters the commission is investigating.
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Zuma has been implicated in various witness statements and was due to appear to answer to allegations of his alleged involvement in state capture last week. However, the former president has refused to answer questions, citing Zondo’s alleged bias against him. He has yet to file responding affidavits to any of the witness statements, according to the commission.
“The matters this commission is investigating, and by which it seeks to question him, happened when he was president of the republic,” Zondo said.
Impact on other witnesses
The deputy chief justice said that Zuma’s conduct could impact on the conduct of other witnesses who have been summoned to appear before the commission, adding that Zuma’s conduct should be “dealt with” within the confines of the law.
“His conduct may send a message to all other witnesses, who might [now] not be comfortable to come and answer questions,” said Zondo, adding that appearing before the commission is the right thing for a witness to do. He said witnesses who have been summoned may not come and go as they choose.
Zondo said he will be issuing a fresh summons for Zuma to appear before the commission.
The commission will also apply to the Constitutional Court on an urgent basis to issue an order that will compel Zuma to appear.
“The court order … will also seek to ensure that the former president is compelled to comply with commission regulations,” said Zondo, adding that this includes Zuma providing affidavits setting out his version of events in responding to 35 witnesses who have implicated him in the various instances of state capture the commission is investigating.