Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has authorised that a summons be issued compelling Norma Mngoma to testify before the state capture commission after the estranged wife of former minister Malusi Gigaba withdrew from her scheduled appearance.
Mngoma informed her legal representatives on Monday evening that she would be withdrawing her testimony, which was scheduled for Tuesday. She cited unspecified “personal concerns”.
Should she have appeared, Mngoma was expected to underscore evidence given by the former minister’s bodyguard that Gigaba received cash from the infamous Gupta family, which was allegedly used to buy luxury apparel and settle restaurant bills, among other serious allegations.
Mngoma’s legal representative, Gcwalisile Makhathini, told the commission that her client informed her legal team on Monday evening that she would be a no-show. She was initially scheduled to appear on Friday 9 April.
Reading into the commission’s records the letter the lawyers had sent to it on Tuesday morning, Makhathini said: “We received instructions from our client informing us of, one, her personal concerns with how various aspects regarding her proposed appearance at the commission [have] been handled or allegedly mishandled by the commission. And, two, her decision to, therefore, withdraw her participation in the work of the commission.”
Zondo asked Makhathini whether there was anything the lawyer wanted to tell him about Mngoma’s decision.
Makhathini responded: “There is nothing, chair. I have not yet had an opportunity to consult in detail, other than what she discussed with me before writing this letter.”
Anton Myburgh SC, one of the evidence leaders at the commission, said he was not apprised of the details regarding Mngoma’s withdrawal.
“Those are things that can be addressed throughout the course of her evidence. What we would like to place on record for present purposes … is that the letter came as somewhat of a surprise to us because Ms Gigaba was scheduled to give evidence remotely from Cape Town on Friday afternoon.
“The next we learnt of was this letter, and, I think, precious little could have happened between Friday afternoon and Tuesday morning,” a visibly confused Myburgh said.
“What we propose to do is issue a summons so that Ms Gigaba is compelled to come and give evidence before you [Zondo]. She will then be at liberty to detail whatever her concerns are.
“And we understand that it is obviously difficult for you to schedule her evidence immediately as of now,” Myburgh added.
He said that the sooner the inquiry received a date, the sooner the evidence leaders could issue the summons.
“And, I think it would probably be in the interest of everyone that her evidence is heard sooner [rather] than later,” Myburgh said.
Zondo responded: “It is surprising that she made this decision … I wonder what is it that could have happened in the meantime?
Malusi Gigaba has appealed to the commission for Mngoma’s evidence to be heard in camera, saying that what she will reveal is unproven or false and could have a negative effect on the couple’s minor children.