/ 20 September 2018

#StateCaptureInquiry: Zondo rebuffs Lynne Brown’s cross-examination efforts

Judge Raymond Zondo concluded that if Lynne Brown chooses to supplement her application in the future
Former Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. (Esa Alexander/Gallo)

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has dismissed former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown’s application to cross-examine Mcebisi Jonas at a sitting of the commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday.

Zondo ruled that Brown will not be allowed to cross-examine the former deputy finance minister because she had failed to present her version of the allegation put forward by Jonas.

Brown applied to cross-examine Jonas based on the deputy finance minister’s mention of her in his statement before the commission in August. During his testimony Jonas said Gupta patriarch, Ajay, had made reference to Brown as a person he had worked closely with.

The conversation occurred during a clandestine meeting at the Gupta compound, during which Gupta allegedly offered Jonas a bribe of R600-million and the position of finance minister in exchange for his co-operation in Gupta business affairs. Nhlanhla Nene was the finance minister at the time.

“He pointed at Mr Duduzane [Zuma] and said that they have made a billionaire and that he had bought a house in Dubai. He said that they had worked closely with a number of people including Lynn Brown and Brian Molefe and as a result, they were protected. In other words, those people who work for them are protected,” Jonas said.

Zondo has previously indicated to Brown’s lawyer, advocate Simmy Lebala, that he does not believe the former public enterprises minister has been meaningfully implicated. It emerged in the first week of the commission that Brown had not received any notice from the legal team that she would be implicated.

Lebala argued that Brown should be allowed to cross-examine Jonas because of the “soundbite” his mention of her created. In Brown’s affidavit to the commission, she contended that this could form the basis on which “further allegations may be built”.

Lebala consistently emphasised the need to contextualise Jonas’s mention of Brown, otherwise it would be considered a “free-flowing statement”.

But Zondo was not convinced by this argument and pressed Lebala to present Brown’s version of the allegation made by Jonas. “You are not telling me whether she admits or denies the allegation,” Zondo said.

“Nowhere in specific terms does she say: ‘I deny the allegation’,” Lebala responded, referring to Brown’s affidavit to the commission.

Zondo explained: “The simple point is: if you want to cross-examine … you must in your application to me put up your version.”

Failing to do so, Zondo summarily dismissed Brown’s application. He concluded that if Brown chooses to supplement her application in the future, his decision might be reconsidered.