‘No special treatment for Guptas’ – Justice Zondo

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JOHANNESBURG, September 13 – The commission of inquiry into state capture granted former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma permission to cross-examine witnesses, while former business partners, the Gupta family’s application was turned down on Thursday.

Commission chairman, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo rejected the controversial family’s option to participate via video link from a location in Dubai, as he would not be able to exercise the commission’s powers. Not hearing their side of the story would not be because they were stopped from doing so, he said, but that they chose to not travel to South Africa and state their case.

There would be no special treatment for the Guptas, said Zondo.

”As long as they are prepared to appear personally before the commission where it can exercise its powers over them, their application cannot be granted…but once they are within the borders of South Africa and are prepared to appear personally, I will have no problem granting them such permission,” Zondo said.

”It quite clear that Mr Ajay Gupta is seriously implicated, and it would be fair that he be granted an opportunity to cross-examine any witness that implicated him. If they change their minds, this commission will have no difficulty in granting the application. Their application to cross-examine is dismissed.”

Zondo added that due to jurisdictional restrictions and the fact that the family have made it clear they will never return to South Africa, the commission would be at the Guptas’ mercy as they could ignore instructions issued to them while overseas.

‘If I were to grant such permission, I would be creating two classes of witnesses – those who agree to appear personally and subjected to criminal prosecution if they gave evidence knowing it is false and that of Ajay and Rajesh, who would not face criminal sanctions if they did the same. They would enjoy special treatment no other witness who appears here enjoys. This commission sees no reason  to grant them any special treatment…and it will not do so.”

The Guptas brothers – Ajay and Rajesh, wanted to quiz ex-parliamentarian Vytjie Mentor, former government spin doctor Themba Maseko and former finance minister Mcebisis Jonas over their damning evidence implication the family and placing them in the centre of state capture and corruption.

Regarding Duduzane, Zondo said him having changed his mind and deciding to testify, has made his application fall into the same category as that of businessman Fana Mokoena and former Zuma aide Lakela Kaunda, among other applicants. He was therefore allowed to cross-examine Jonas. The latter testified that the former president’s son met with him and then drove him to the Gupta’s Saxonwold compound where he was offered a finance minister post and a R600 million bribe.

– African News Agency (ANA)