‘Myeni obstructed the work of the Zondo commission’ — Hofmeyer

Former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni wilfully obstructed the work of the Zondo commission when she revealed the identity of one of its secret witnesses.

This is according to evidence leader, advocate Kate Hofmeyr, who said on Thursday afternoon that Myeni’s actions would send a chill over the commission’s proceedings by deterring “future whistleblower witnesses from coming forward”.

Hofmeyr submitted that the commission’s chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, should direct the secretary of the commission to lay a charge against Myeni for breaching the Commission’s Act.

Earlier, Myeni mentioned the real name of Mr X — a witness who in February claimed she used his company’s bank account to launder money for the Jacob G Zuma Foundation — on four occasions, to the shock of Zondo.

Mr X’s testimony before the commission was conducted in camera and from a secret location because, he said, he feared for his life.

Hofmeyr added that any explanation of Myeni’s conduct, or any indications of regrets, “are matters that are appropriately to be reserved for her criminal trial on this charge, should the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] decide to prosecute”. 

“Any offers of explanation or contrition are not, and could never be, grounds for not directing that the charge be laid,” she added.

“Chair, it is our submission that the proper functioning of this commission requires matters like this to be dealt with resolutely and swiftly, so that they can be no doubt that people who knowingly undermine this commission will be brought to book.”

After hearing Hofmeyr’s submission, Zondo said to Myeni: “What you did here is really something that, it seems to me, would discourage other witnesses who want to give evidence before the commission anonymously, when they fear for their safety or their lives. This is something that is very crucial to the work of the commission.”

“There are many people I believe who would like to share information with the commission and who have been wanting to do so over the past two-and-a-half years … but who simply feel that they will be victimised.”

When Myeni continued answering questions relating to Mr X’s evidence, she mentioned his real name again before apologising for doing so.

“Honestly, I am feeling so bad about this whole thing, because I don’t mean to disrespect anyone,” Myeni said.

“And especially I don’t mean to disrespect the commission or the chairperson. I am feeling very bad. But Ms Hofmeyr, if I have mentioned him again, it would be out of — I did not hear myself whether I said his name or not — one, it was disbelief. Two it was an emotion that came with it and feeling betrayed. I apologise.”

Myeni’s error comes after the state-capture accused invoked her privilege not to incriminate herself in allegations relating to her time at SAA. To that end, Myeni has refused to answer a number of questions during her two-day stint at the commission.

On Wednesday, Myeni said she would not want to incriminate herself because earlier this year the high court referred evidence to the NPA for further investigation into possible criminal conduct.

When the privilege against self-incrimination is invoked, each question must be evaluated to determine whether it may incriminate the witness. As a result, numerous questions have been put to Myeni, most of which she has responded to by saying she prefers not to answer them.

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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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