Biltong and chips for sale as state capture inquiry starts‚ but no whistle-blowers coming forward

Head of the legal team Advocate Paul Pretorius (Centre) talks to other lawyers during a tea break, 20 August 2018, in Parktown, Johannesburg, during the opening day of the the State Capture Inquiry.
Head of the legal team Advocate Paul Pretorius (Centre) talks to other lawyers during a tea break, 20 August 2018, in Parktown, Johannesburg, during the opening day of the the State Capture Inquiry.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The judicial commission of inquiry into state capture started on a technical note on Monday‚ with its legal team outlining the terms of reference and regulations ahead of testimonies expected later this week.

Paul Pretorius‚ head of the inquiry’s legal team‚ spent the most of the time speaking behind a lone stand‚ centred between his aides. His opening address was directed at deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo‚ who heads the commission.

Zondo‚ dressed in a black suit‚ punctually took his seat at 10am‚ rearranging the two folders of documentation placed in front him‚ before switching on his microphone. He remained alone on stage‚ his table long enough to seat at least four others.

Zondo opened the commission by highlighting various challenges facing the commission – including the State Security Agency’s continuing inertia in finalising security clearance. He also expressed his disappointment at the lack of response to his call for members of the public to come forward with information on state capture.


There was a small police presence in the lobby outside the venue in Parktown‚ Johannesburg‚ with a few officers scattered around two metal detectors placed at the entrance doors. The mini bar also seemed a popular spot: biltong‚ chips‚ energy bars‚ tea‚ coffee and cooldrink made up the menu.

Inside‚ the public gallery was mostly empty. A few dozen people were scattered around the back of the room. This was not the case with members of the media‚ who quickly congregated around tables set out for them in the middle of the room.

Just in front of the media‚ blockaded from the rest of the room‚ was where members of the commission‚ its legal team and secretariat sat. On their tables were laptops‚ stacks of folders and the occasional ream of sticky notes.

Spotted on tables marked for the secretariat was former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyer Mike Hellens and Rudi Krause of BDK attorneys‚ who represents Duduzane Zuma and some members of the Gupta family.

Monday is expected to consist mostly of formalities. Witnesses are expected to testify from Tuesday.

The commission of inquiry into state capture began on August 20 2018. In his address, Judge Raymond Zondo discussed the challenges they faced as a commission.

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