JOHANNESBURG, October 10 – Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan’s testimony at the state capture commission was on Wednesday postponed to next month due to lack of time for those implicated by her to respond.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s testimony, which was scheduled to be heard on Friday, was also postponed to November 15 because the inquiry is yet to receive his submission.
Hogan arrived at the inquiry flanked by her legal team and took to the stand, ready to give evidence in the inquiry into the state capture debacle. In her application for the postponement, member of the commission’s legal team, Advocate Thandi Norman, said Hogan’s “broadened” statement was only received on Monday.
“The reasons the legal team thought it was prudent to postpone her hearing are that her statement was received on Monday and in terms of the rules, that statement must be given to the implicated persons, and those persons must be given two weeks to either put up a version or decide to ignore the statement…and take whatever route they deem appropriate,” she said.
Hogan had submitted an original statement in August, which Norman said lacked enough details and needed to be broadened. Wednesday’s was the second postponement of Hogan’s testimony at the inquiry, the previous date had been September 12.
Norman added that Gordhan’s statement before the commission was only a draft “which cannot be acted upon according to the rules”. His final statement is expected to be filed at the inquiry on Thursday.
“We submit our application for postponement based on those reasons, and also, ensure that the public respects the way the commission operates and that we, as the legal team, do not undermine the rules under which the commission operates,” Norman concluded.
Former president Jacob Zuma’s advocate, Dan Mantsha, argued that the credibility of the inquiry was at stake as he was invited to the inquiry on Monday but was never told that his client, implicated in Hogan’s statement, would not have ample time to put up his version.
“The former president is implicated in the evidence that the witness before you is going to give. We received an invite on 8 October [Monday] to come here today, so that communication we had and reasons presented to you…are in my understanding, a contradiction. The commission, as early as the 8th and 9th, was still inviting us to come to hear evidence without informing us that in fact there is a new statement dated Monday from the witness,” Mantsha said.
“The underlying word has been the integrity of the commission…so what are the real reasons? It appears we are the only allegedly implicated by the witness, I don’t see any reasons why we were not properly informed on Monday upon receiving the statement. I find it very hard to understand the real reasons behind the postponement.”
Norman, responding to Mantsha, said the inquiry has not heard from her client about his version to Hogan’s statement.
“What Mr Mantsha is not telling the commission is that even a response or version to the original statement has not been received by the commission….because in order for the commission to investigate further is to have a version. He received the letter on 8 October, a statement that expanded on the original one. It was agreed that parties whose names appear, proper notices be given to the…there is nothing unfair about this matter and application.”
In granting the postponement, commission chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said it was important to follow the rules regarding implicated persons.
“The commission and its legal team must ensure that implicated persons are treated fairly and afforded an opportunity to put up their versions before the inquiry. The rules seek to ensure fairness and indeed, with Hogan’s statement received Monday, it does not grant implicated persons enough time to deal with the allegations,” he said.
The commission was adjourned to November 12 when Hogan will give her testimony.
Hogan was fired from Cabinet by Zuma and replaced by Malusi Gigaba.
– African News Agency (ANA)