Myeni chooses silence on SAA capture

Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni has an axe hanging over her head, the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture heard.

Wednesday’s proceedings kicked off with Myeni — who appeared before the commission virtually from her home, where she is self-isolating — invoking her privilege not to incriminate herself in allegations relating to her time at the beleaguered state airline. 

Myeni said she would prefer to remain silent on the SAA issue because of questions over how the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) managed to obtain pertinent documents from the commission. 

In 2017, Outa successfully took Myeni to court to have her declared a delinquent director.

“Outa collaborated with the commission and got all the documents and the questions that are contained in all the letters that I received from the commission,” Myeni said. 

“Outa is a private organisation and Outa was able to use all that is contained on the documents that I am expected to answer today. And they relied on the information that they got with the watermark of the commission.”

The high court judgment and the evidence led at the delinquency hearing was referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for further investigation into possible criminal conduct. 

Chairperson of the commission, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, said it is the first time he is hearing of the alleged collaboration between Outa and the commission. 

Evidence leader, advocate Kate Hofmeyr, explained that the right to remain silent applies to accused persons within a trial. “The right to silence, as a consequence, does not apply in these proceedings.”

But, Hofmeyr added, the privilege against self-incrimination does apply. When the privilege against self-incrimination is invoked, each question must be evaluated to determine whether it may incriminate the witness, she said. 

Hofmeyr said the fact that the documents used by Outa bore the watermark of the commission was an indication that they were already public. 

“Even if, unbeknownst certainly to me and it appears to you, somehow documents got from the commission to Outa in the Outa trial, that is not a basis to invoke the privilege against self-incrimination.”

Myeni’s counsel, Thabani Masuku SC, said: “Before you is a witness who has an axe hanging over her head. And part of what makes a good witness in a fact-finding commission is the ability to speak freely. She is not speaking freely.”

Musuku added that there is “a real fear, based on a judgment of a real judge that the real NPA will in the future charge her with a crime arising from her activities”.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

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.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Ithala fails to act against board chairperson over PPE scandal

Morar asked to settle with the state and pay back the profit he made on an irregular tender

Vodacom swindled out of more than R24m worth of iPhones

A former employee allegedly ran an intricate scam to steal 8700 phones from the cellular giant

More top stories

Don’t be deceived: Covid-19 vaccines are not for sale

Police warn against fake Covid-19 vaccines and urge the public to report any criminal activities

Stop oil and gas drilling in Namibia’s Kavango Basin immediately...

Thirty-four bishops and three archbishops decry exploratory drilling as a ‘sin’ against the Earth

South Africa to get another commission, this one to tackle...

A higher carbon tax will be introduced in 2023 for companies with dangerous levels of greenhouse gas emissions

Zondo deplores ‘attempted killing’ of state capture witness who implicated...

The deputy chief justice says an attack on one witness may deter many others from giving evidence

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…