Ramaphosa changes state capture inquiry regulations
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday made a significant change to regulations for the much-anticipated state capture inquiry.
Regulation 8(1)‚ as signed off by Ramaphosa’s predecessor Jacob Zuma‚ stated that no witness may refuse to answer questions posed at the commission. But it was Regulation 8(2) that was deemed problematic.
The original regulation stated that “no evidence regarding questions and answers contemplated in sub - regulation (1)‚ and no evidence regarding any fact or information that comes to light in consequence of any such questions or answers‚ shall be admissible in any criminal proceedings‚ except in criminal proceedings where the person concerned is charged with an offence in terms of section 6 of the Commissions Act‚ 1947 (Act No. 8 of 1947)‚ or regulation 12.
Effectively‚ it granted immunity for any evidence presented at the commission. AfriForum‚ among others‚ wanted this regulation changed – and were prepared to go to court.
But on Friday‚ Ramaphosa replaced Regulation 8(2).
“Of particular concern was regulation 8(2)‚ which deals with the admissibility in possible criminal proceedings of evidence presented to the commission‚” he said in a statement issued by the Presidency on Friday afternoon. “Submissions received by the Presidency from the Helen Suzman Foundation and AfriForum suggested‚ among other things‚ that the regulation may undermine efforts to prosecute any persons implicated in criminal activity.”
After taking legal advice‚ he amended the regulation “to limit the inadmissibility of such evidence to circumstances where a witness may incriminate themselves”. Regulation 8(2) now reads: “A self-incriminating answer or a statement given by a witness before the commission shall not be admissible as evidence against that person in any criminal proceedings brought against that person instituted in any court‚ except in criminal proceedings where the person concerned is charged with an offence in terms of section 6 of the Commissions Act‚ 1947 (Act No. 8 of 1947).”
This‚ in essence‚ means that evidence against others can be used in criminal charges‚ but not evidence that personally incriminates the witness. The amendment was to be published in the Government Gazette on Friday.