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STATE CAPTURE INQUIRY: ‘Guptas want selective treatment of the law’

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The Guptas’ promise to testify from Dubai was “worth nothing” and they “wanted selective treatment of the law”.

Advocate Vincent Maleka‚ one of the evidence leaders at the commission of inquiry into state capture‚ has slammed the Guptas‚ arguing that there was “no lawful reason” justifying their refusal to return to South Africa to give evidence.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions‚ and we don’t have to risk that road‚” advocate Vincent Maleka argued on Thursday afternoon.

Maleka urged Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to dismiss their applications to cross-examine the witnesses that implicate them.

Zondo himself questioned whether the Guptas’ refusal to return to South Africa did “not seek to defeat one of the purposes of this commission” because – should the inquiry recommend criminal prosecution – such potential prosecution of the Guptas “would not be possible” if they remained overseas.

Maleka slammed the Guptas’ response to the testimony of former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas‚ former government communications head Themba Maseko and ex-ANC MP Vytjie Mentor as founded on “bare denials”.

“They simply want to use the commission processes to proclaim their innocence‚” he added.

“We submit that the type of undertaking through the heads of arguments by the Gupta brothers‚ is not worth the pain because they may wake up and decide that they are not going to participate in the commission‚” Maleka said.

He further argued that there were cost implications to send the commissions legal team abroad‚ and as things stood‚ financial resources were already scarce.

“Even if we take that proposition on face value‚ we know that‚ the road to hell is paved with good intention‚” said Maleka.

Zondo agreed and said it would be quiet a “huge operation” because it meant that more money would be required.

Lawyers for the Guptas have argued that they would not return to South Africa to give evidence – as they did not trust the “reckless incompetence” and abuse of power by the Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority.The Hawks maintain that Gupta patriarch Ajay is a “fugitive from justice” but the Guptas’ advocate‚ Mike Hellens SC‚ argued earlier on Thursday that there was “no clarity” on whether this was the case.

Maleka pointed out that former president Jacob Zuma’s son‚ Duduzane‚ had returned to South Africa – despite knowing that he faced potential criminal prosecution for allegedly attempting to corrupt Jonas.

Duduzane Zuma has argued that he wants the right to cross-examine Jonas‚ but doesn’t want to testify because he currently faces criminal prosecution linked to Jonas’s evidence.

But Maleka says there is “no prejudice” to Duduzane‚ given that the evidence he gives to the inquiry cannot be used against him in his criminal trial.

Maleka said he would ask for Duduzane to be summoned to give evidence if he did not voluntarily come to the inquiry.

Justice Zondo reserved judgment on the Guptas’ application.He however granted former president Jacob Zuma’s personal assistant‚ Lakela Kaunda‚ former arms deal consultant Fana Hlongwane and Hawks advocate Mandla Mtolo the right to cross-examine all three key witnesses at the commission.

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