How Markus Jooste plans to dodge Parliament’s tough questions

After months of continued revelations regarding the intrigue that is Steinhoff, the reclusive mastermind behind the tangled web, Markus Jooste, will finally appear before Parliament on Wednesday.

But while MPs have tried to get the elusive Jooste to answer key questions about the company’s crisis, Jooste has argued his way out of giving a potentially detailed account of the scandal.

When Jooste appears before Parliament, the testimony he gives is set to focus on the vulnerabilities of financial regulators in South Africa, instead of an account of how Steinhoff cooked its books.

It will be the first occasion where Jooste will be openly seen in public since he resigned in December 2017 after it was revealed that Steinhoff was steeped in what Jooste admitted was “accounting irregularities”.

But Jooste won’t necessarily face incriminating questions when he arrives in Parliament. Penelope Twaya, the acting secretary to Parliament, has reached an agreement with Jooste that he will only be asked to identify the cracks in the finance sector regulators that led to the collapse of Steinhoff’s shares.

A court order, dated August 28, sets out the agreement where Jooste will under oath “be questioned to assist the committees to identify any institutional flaws and challenges existing in the relevant financial regulatory framework or any implementation challenges in [that framework] which might have caused or given rise to the collapse of the value of Steinhoff shares”.

He will be asked questions by MPs in a joint meeting of the standing committees on finance and public accounts (Scopa), and the public service and administration portfolio committee, as per the order, on Wednesday.

Initially, Twaya had summoned Jooste to appear before the standing committee on finance — at the request of committee chairperson Yunus Carrim — to “give an overview of the circumstances that led to the collapse in value of the share price [of Steinhoff] and answer any related questions”.

But Jooste challenged the summons in court in an application to have it declared invalid and set aside on August 28. His affidavit, filed in the Western Cape high court, referred to the summons as “unfair, oppressive and an abuse”.

The summons had been issued on August 22 for Jooste to appear in Parliament on August 29, which he said in his affidavit was too little time. He also said that the purpose of him being summoned was not clearly detailed.

“I certainly cannot be expected to prepare myself on 6 days’ notice given the overbroad description of the subject matter of the enquiry,” Jooste said in his affidavit.

He added that because there appeared to be no rules that speak to the protection of witnesses, the “right not to be compelled to give self-incriminating evidence” would be contradicted in the meeting and he would suffer prejudice as his right to a fair trial may also be affected.

Parliament had invited Jooste to answer questions on the collapse of Steinhoff at the end of January, but Jooste declined on the “basis that I am no longer an employee at Steinhoff”. At the time, Carrim responded to Jooste’s lawyers — who had provided the reason — calling it “very lame”.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi was unavailable for comment on Tuesday, and Carrim said that he would have “nothing more to add” until the meeting with Jooste concluded.

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier, who sits in the finance committee, has been vocal on the agreement calling it “bizarre” in an interview with Business Day.

Jooste is set to appear in Parliament at 10am.  

Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

‘Judge President Hlophe tried to influence allocation of judges to...

Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to influence her to allocate the case to judges he perceived as ‘favourably disposed’ to former president Jacob Zuma

SAA grounds flights due to low demand

SAA is working to accommodate customers on its sister airlines after it cancelled flights due to low demand

Isabel dos Santos did not loot Angola alone

Once again, Western auditing and consulting firms shamelessly facilitated corruption on an international scale

Lekwa municipality won’t answer questions about why children died in...

Three children are dead. More than a dozen homes have been gutted by fires in the past six months. And, as...

Press Releases

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.