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Raymond Zondo slams state capture commission's legal team, investigators

The head of the Hawks, Godfrey Lebeya, was over a long period sidelined, ill-treated and prejudiced in many ways, said judge Raymond Zondo..
The head of the Hawks, Godfrey Lebeya, was over a long period sidelined, ill-treated and prejudiced in many ways, said judge Raymond Zondo..
Image: Alaister Russell

State capture commission chairperson deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo on Thursday lashed out at the commission's legal team and investigators for shoddy work in dealing with the affidavit filed by Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya.

At the centre of Zondo's dissatisfaction was whether Lebeya's submission fell within the commission's terms of reference.

Zondo was convinced that, in its current form, most of it did not and Lebeya was thus forced to abandon his testimony. Zondo called for further investigation before he makes a final call.

Furthermore, Zondo instructed the commission's legal team and investigators to never bring before him a witness's submission whose terms of reference were not clear. 

“There can be no doubt that Dr Lebeya, as he says, over a long period of time, was sidelined, ill-treated and prejudiced in many ways,” said Zondo.

“The concern I have is that it is not clear why that was the case. There may be other people who may have to be interviewed, who may bring more light and facts.

Zondo said it was difficult to understand why some of the things contained in Lebeya's statement had been done to him.

“In terms of what I see, to say the former president (Jacob Zuma) might have done or said this or that to somebody ... at this stage is just a suspicion, nothing more than that.

“I do get the impression that the legal team is not applying its mind fully to the issue and I think it is best that we adjourn the hearing of Dr Lebeya's evidence to allow further investigation to be done.”

Lebeya was expected to implicate, in the main, former national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, whom he believes frustrated his work, allegedly to protect former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

Zondo was not convinced the issues between Phiyega and Lebeya had a direct link to state capture or were merely a personal conflict.

His frustration with the legal team and investigators was that they had not interviewed Phiyega while investigating Lebeya's statement.

He had a go at advocate Susan Wentzel, who was meant to lead Lebeya's evidence.

“Has she (Phiyega) been approached?” asked Zondo.

“As yet, she has not,” responded Wentzel.

Zondo went on: “And it is wrong that she has not been approached. The legal team is wrong to not have done that, the investigators are wrong not to have done that. But more than the investigators, I blame the legal team.

“This because the legal team must guide the investigators. When they read these statements, they see all of these things. Before arrangements are made to prepare for the witness to come and give evidence, the legal team must say, 'hang on, there are these things'.

“More than anything, the legal team must ask with regards to each witness 'how does this witness's evidence fit into the terms of reference?'. That question must be asked and no member of the legal team must not be ready to deal with that,” Zondo said.

“If Ms Phiyega says it was because of personal differences ... can it be said that it falls within the terms of reference? Was it corruption, was it fraud or was it state capture? Or could it be that maybe she just did not like him for whatever reason, which would be wrong, but not everything which is wrong falls within the terms of reference of the commission.”

Zondo said he expected better from the legal team. It had wasted a day because it had not done its job properly.

The commission is scheduled to resume next week.

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