STATE CAPTURE INQUIRY: The corruption busters

Raymond Zondo
Raymond Zondo
Image: ALON SKUY

The true bite of the Zondo judicial commission of inquiry probing state capture will be felt in the strength of the investigative team.

The six commissioners - seasoned legal doyens and number crunchers — have the enormous task of piecing together how the state was captured by the Gupta family and their business associates and how deep the corruption crept.

The chair of the commission‚ Justice Raymond Zondo‚ chose former auditor general Terence Nombembe to head the team of investigators‚ saying earlier this year that he had no doubt that the commission would derive a lot of value from Nombembe’s role as the head of the investigating team.

The chartered accountant from Qumbu in the Eastern Cape is heading a multi-skilled team of forensic investigators and lawyers who have been trawling through evidence and securing witness statements for the inquiry.


Nombembe is best known for his role as the auditor general of South Africa where he served for seven years until 2013.

At the time of his appointment to the Zondo Commission‚ he was the CEO of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). He has since been seconded to the commission.

His role in SAICA soon became a course of controversy when the EFF raised concern that he may be conflicted because the Gupta-linked firm Trillion had donated R1.2-million to the organisation’s bursary programme.

Zondo however rejected the EFF’s concern that Nombembe was conflicted. SAICA said at the time that when they realised where the money came from‚ it was repaid.

Nombembe’s academic qualifications are substantive - first qualifying from the University of Transkei in 1982 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Four years later‚ he graduated with an honours degree in Accounting Science from Unisa. The Walter Sisulu University conferred on Nombembe an honorary doctorate in Accounting Science in 2014.

During his tenure as AG‚ he was lauded for being firm against maladministration and malfeasance in government.

Nombembe will have Advocate Paul Pretorius SC by his side heading the legal work of the commission.

A general commercial litigator and a member of the South African Law Commission‚ Pretorius is a quiet legal revolutionary.

Other top legal eagles on board include Advocate Vincent Maleka SC who has been involved in previous commissions of inquiry and brings gravitas to the job.

Two top women advocates also form part of the team – Leah Gcabashe and Thandi Norman. Both have served as acting judges and are members of Advocates for Transformation. Norman worked on the Goldstone commission of inquiry into taxi violence in Eastern Cape‚ while Gcabashe worked on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's amnesty committee.

Dr Khotso De Wee‚ a former executive director of Fort Hare Solutions and previously chief operations officer at the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development‚ is the commission secretary.

Capture Busters:

Terrence Nombembe Served as auditor general until 2013 and‚ despite his calm and unassuming character‚ he is known for his astute auditing skills and passion for good governance. When it comes to the intricacies of the machine that is a government department‚ there are few likely to know the system better.

Advocate Paul Pretorius SC A quiet legal revolutionary with over 40 years’ experience who has been an acting judge in many courts.

Advocate Vincent Maleka SC An experienced lawyer with over 25 years’ experience who brings gravitas to the job. A specialist in corporate and commercial law as well as tax law.

Advocates Leah Gcabashe SC and Thandi Norman. Both have served as acting judges and are members of Advocates for Transformation. Norman worked on the Goldstone commission of inquiry into taxi violence in Eastern Cape. Gcabashe worked on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's amnesty committee.

Dr Khotso De Wee A former executive director of Fort Hare Solutions and previously chief operations officer at the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is the commission secretary.

Sunday Times journalist Qaanitah Hunter gives us a break down of what can be expected from the commission of inquiry into state capture which kicks off on Monday August 20 2018.

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