Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo says he does not necessarily agree that one should not be granted leave to cross examine a witness should they not also be willing to take the witness stand themselves. (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo will deliver his decisions on the Guptas’ and Duduzane Zuma’s applications to cross-examine state capture inquiry witnesses on Thursday.
Last Thursday, the lawyers of Gupta patriarch, Ajay, his brother, Rajesh, and the former president’s son told Zondo that the commission would be undermined if it does not give their clients the opportunity to cross-examine its witnesses.Their counsel, Mike Hellens SC and Dawie Joubert SC, sought to persuade Zondo that their clients should be allowed to cross-examine witnesses who have implicated them, despite them demanding limitations on their own participation in the commission.
On Monday it emerged that Zuma had changed his mind about not testifying before the commission based on the fact that he is facing parallel criminal charges, also related to state capture allegations.
The Gupta brothers have indicated that they will not testify in person. Hellens said however that they would testify on the condition that they would be able to do so via video call or at another agreed upon location.
Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan was scheduled to appear before the commission on Wednesday but this was as postponed on Tuesday until further notice. Hogan’s name has only been mentioned during the course of the commission by former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, who alleged that Ajay Gupta offered her Hogan’s job at a clandestine meeting in 2010.
According to the commission’s regulations, “there is no right to cross-examine a witness before the Commission but the Chairperson may permit cross-examination should he deem it necessary and in the best interests of the work of the Commission to do so”.
If Zondo does grant leave to cross examine, he is also expected to announce whether conditions will be attached to leave to cross-examine. Last week, Vincent Maleka SC, of the commission’s legal team, argued that Zondo ought to impose conditions that would require implicated persons to take the witness stand themselves.Maleka urged Zondo to consider that the “privilege [to cross examine] comes along with some responsibility and the responsibility is to undertake to testify orally under oath and that they too become subjected to cross-examination”.
Zondo might thus refuse leave to cross-examine a witness if an implicated person is not prepared to testify and be subjected to cross-examination.