Judge Zondo: 'I will have the final word on Jacob Zuma's appearance'

Former president Jacob Zuma
Former president Jacob Zuma
Image: File

The chairman of the commission of inquiry into state capture, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, and the commission's legal team have accepted that former president Jacob Zuma is ill and will not be able to appear before them this month.

Zuma's lawyers appeared before the commission for oral arguments on Tuesday morning, insisting Zuma will not be in the country from January 27-31, which is when the commission wanted him to appear before it.

According to Zuma's legal team, their client will be overseas to receive medical treatment.

Zondo accepted this but "reserved my right" to determine a later date for Zuma to appear. 

Zuma offered to grant Zondo access to his medical records but the commission's chair was not comfortable with this.

"I think it is a good thing he has offered without being compelled," said Zondo.

"From what I have been told in the affidavit, it seems what he is offering me to see may reveal his illness, and I have some discomfort having to see anybody’s information relating to their illness."

Earlier, Zuma's legal representative, advocate Thabani Masuku, said they took exception that the commission insisted on summoning Zuma despite his medical condition, which has seen him treated locally and abroad.

"The commission is doing very important work. They must try to extend to us the presumption that when we give the commission a word, we mean what we say," said Masuku.

"These are issues that can simply be dealt with to preserve the dignity of all involved. 

"It is very embarrassing to stand here and tell the commission that the former president has a medical condition that prevents him from coming here under the threat of a subpoena," said Masuku.

"Where is ubuntu in all this? We have got to preserve the atmosphere of dignity. We take exception that the commission sees fit to insist on having the former president coming here, despite being told of his medical conditions. It is just extraordinary." 

According to Zuma, via his legal team, he will not be able to appear before the commission until March this year.

Zondo said he will be the one to have the final word on Zuma's new appearance date. 

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