Maharaj, Shaik again absent from Hefer

National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka’s main accusers, Mac Maharaj and Mo Shaik, were again absent from the Hefer commission’s public hearings in Bloemfontein on Thursday.

Evidence leader Kessie Naidu said the two men could not attend because they were preparing preliminary statements following a request from the commission.

Their absence on Thursday again robbed them of the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses who made allegations against them.

Former judge Joos Hefer said that Shaik and Maharaj would have to apply to recall witnesses if they wanted to cross-examine those who testified before the commission while they did not attend. The judge would then make a ruling only after considering their reasons.

Ngcuka’s former comrade-in-arms Letha Jolobe testified on Thursday.

He averred that Maharaj was apparently fishing for clues to substantiate his allegations against Ngcuka. Maharaj had contacted Jolobe to inquire about Ngcuka’s activist past only after the accusations had been levelled, Hefer was told.

Naidu said Jolobe’s affidavit was faxed the previous day to Maharaj and Shaik’s lawyer, Yunis Shaik. Although Yunis undertook to arrange for representation, none attended Thursday’s hearing, Naidu said.

The newspaper This Day reported earlier on Thursday that the Shaiks and Maharaj did not attend this week’s hearings because the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development had refused their costs.

They reportedly complained that the national director of public prosecutions’ legal representation and attendance were funded by the government while they had to foot their own bills.

Pressure is meanwhile mounting on Maharaj and Shaik to provide hard evidence to back their allegations that Ngcuka was an apartheid spy.

The commission again officially requested them this week to provide documentation to prove the claim.

Last week, Hefer granted their request that their opening submissions before the commission be postponed until November 17.

They wanted a wide range of apartheid-era intelligence files to be sourced first to support their testimony.

Advocate George Bizos, SC, representing the country’s intelligence agencies, is expected to make a submission in that regard on Friday.

Other witnesses to be called on Friday are Mbulelo Hongo and the former government official who handled Ngcuka’s passport application in the Eighties.

Hongo was jailed with Ngcuka in the early Eighties after refusing to testify in a treason trial.

A newspaper report earlier suggested that Ngcuka received a passport from the apartheid government in exchange for him informing on activist comrades.

Ngcuka’s response was that his passport application was granted due to an administrative error.—Sapa

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