Brown fails to give her version at state capture commission

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JOHANNESBURG, September 20 – State capture commission of inquiry chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has swiftly dismissed former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown’s application to quiz former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas as she had failed to present her version.

”Miss Lynne Brown’s application is dismissed. She has not put up her version…she is free to later put up another application if it meets the requirements,” Zondo ruled on Thursday.

Zondo repeatedly urged Brown’s advocate Simmy Lebala to articulate Brown’s side of the story to Jonas’ testimony. The ex-deputy finance minister told the commission that Ajay Gupta boasted to him that the controversial family worked with the then public enterprises’ minister and former Eskom boss Brian Molefe. Jonas had been called to the Gupta Saxonwold compound where he was offered the minister of finance position and a R600 million bribe by Ajay.

Lebala could not, however, point to Brown’s direct response to Jonas from her affidavit. He then asked Zondo to listen to the ”context” and proceeded to read Jonas’ statement contained in his testimony. Zondo, though, was having none of it.

”But before the context, there has to be her version, Mr Lebala…where is her version? if you cannot answer that, whatever you say will not help. Anyone who wants to cross-examine must put their version first…a response to the allegations,” said Zondo, before telling Lebala he only has ”two minutes left”.

Lebala then conceded that his client does not deny Jonas’ allegations against her.

Lebala replied: ”Nowhere in specific terms does Miss Brown say I deny Mr Jonas’s allegations…nowhere does she say I will demonstrate that what Mr Jonas said is not true, hence we wanted to go to the context. Look at her holistically, chairperson.”

Brown has been embroiled in state capture allegations and accused of enabling the controversial Gupta family’s access to state-owned enterprises that were under her watch.

In February, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found Brown guilty of misleading Parliament in her assertion that there were no other contracts concluded between Eskom and Gupta-linked Trillian. Mkhwebane found her guilty of violating the provisions of the Executives Ethics Code of the Constitution and directed President Cyril Ramaphosa to take appropriate action against Brown within 14 days.

Brown was axed during a Cabinet reshuffle in February and resigned as MP shortly thereafter.

The commission adjourned and will resume next week Thursday.

-African News Agency (ANA)