McBride testimony delayed to allow Zondo commission to notify implicated parties

The testimony of Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture has been postponed until further notice.

On Thursday, the commission’s legal team applied to postpone McBride’s testimony, which is expected to deal with the alleged capture of the criminal justice cluster — including the South African Police Service, the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority.

According to the head of the commission’s legal team, Paul Pretorius SC, McBride’s testimony will implicate more than 30 people, many of them high-ranking officials.

But McBride’s statement to the commission was only completed at 6pm on Wednesday, meaning that the legal team has not been able to notify persons implicated by McBride’s testimony.

According to the commission’s regulations, notices must be sent to people implicated by witness statements in advance of oral testimony. Pretorius revealed on Thursday that the responses of implicated persons will have to be put to McBride during the course of his testimony.

McBride’s testimony will also likely be much longer than the two days, Pretorius said, adding that his far-reaching evidence warrants further investigation.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the commission’s chair, granted the postponement, emphasising the importance that the commission complies with its regulations relating to implicated persons. The commission must be seen to be acting fairly and consistently, he said.

The commission has landed in hot water relating to notices sent to implicated persons in the past, specifically in relation to former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi’s testimony last month.

Agrizzi’s appearance before the commission was kept under wraps after he allegedly received a number of threats in the months leading up to his testimony. As a result, the about 38 people implicated in Agrizzi’s testimony were not notified in advance of his oral testimony.

READ MORE: Mokonyane slams Zondo commission amid Bosasa allegations

Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane criticised the commission for this after Agrizzi outed her as an alleged beneficiary of bribes paid to her by Bosasa.

READ MORE: ‘We jumped for Mokonyane’ — ex Bosasa employee

In a letter to the commission Mokonyane’s lawyer’s lambasted the perceived conduct of the commission’s officials.

Agrizzi told the commission Mokonyane had received gifts and favours from Bosasa from as early as 2002. These were allegedly made in exchange for her “protection” of the controversial service provider.

“Our client is of the view that her constitutional right to be heard before the commission resolved to deviate from rule 3.3 [the rule that tasks the commission with notifying implicated persons] denying her access to Mr Agrizzi’s statement has been breached,” Mokonyane’s lawyer’s letter read.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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