State capture hearings to resume at end of June or early July: Raymond Zondo
Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo anticipates that the inquiry into state capture will resume in the next three to four weeks.
“There are still things that need to be sorted out. It’s not clear to us if witnesses can travel between provinces to testify at the commission,” said Zondo, the chairperson of the commission, during a media briefing on Wednesday.
It is expected that the commission can resume in the last week of June or at the beginning of July.
Zondo said the commission needed some time to finalise and clarify the list of witnesses and those who would be travelling to Gauteng. It would also need to look at how its investigators will travel between provinces.
He said the commission would do things differently when hearings resumed.
“Before the lockdown, witnesses were taken through their affidavits [before testifying]. We are going to do things differently now because we want to finish the work of the commission. We are going to make arrangements that the legal team can interview witnesses and transcribe their interviews. I will read it [the transcript] before the witness testifies and ask them to confirm if the information is theirs,” said Zondo.
Witnesses would only be asked questions on important issues, not on everything. “That will give us more time to have more evidence than we did before," he said.
He would not say how many witnesses the commission was expecting to give evidence when the hearings resumed.
“We will hear a small number of witnesses. The process of identifying others and sifting is ongoing. We won’t have as many public hearings as we did in the past two years. I have been able sit back and look at the work that has been done and review it to see where we can tie loose ends," he said.
Asked if witnesses would be required to testify at the hearing or if they could give evidence on a virtual platform, Zondo said he preferred that they physically attend the hearing.
“I would prefer that a witness comes to testify in a normal way. The fact that we are allowed to have hearings [means] I would prefer they come to the hearing and give evidence.”
Zondo said the commission would prioritise evidence relating to the public protector (PP) reports when hearings resumed.
“These are issues that revolve around the Gupta family and their entities. We will try to finish issues that do not fall under the PP.”
Zondo said the commission had initially planned to resume hearings at the end of April.
“We were planning to have further hearings around April but the lockdown happened. We thought we could make plans for the resumption of hearings after the lockdown would have ended. Once there was an extension of the lockdown, it interfered with those plans. We realised that we needed to stay put and see what would be possible.”
He said a certain number of the commission personnel would return to work on June 15.
“The attitude is that those who can work remotely from home should continue doing that. All the measures that need to be taken in order to ensure the environment is as safe as it can be are undertaken.”
Zondo said he had consulted with President Cyril Ramaphosa during the lockdown to update him on the work of the commission and the challenges it faces.
“He made it clear that he supports the work of the commission.”
Zondo said he was confident that the commission would finish its work by the cut-off date of March 2021.
“When I look at the commitment of the team, we are going to work very hard to finish. The will and determination to finish is there. There must be nothing we leave out without applying our minds to it.”
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