/ 19 April 2021

Zondo says break-in will not intimidate commission

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo called the second postponement of former Ipid head Robert McBride's testimony 'unacceptable'.
Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Gulshan Khan/AFP)

The Zondo commission will not be intimidated by anybody trying to prevent it from completing its work properly, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said on Monday, after confirming its offices were broken into days after a bullet was fired into the building.

Zondo said it was not clear whether the burglary and an incident a week earlier, on the weekend of April 10 and 11, in which a shot was fired into the Braamfontein premises housing the commission were “ordinary criminality” or something more sinister.

Commission spokesman Reverend Mbuyiselo Stemela has confirmed that two computers were stolen in the break-in, which was discovered on Sunday morning. The burglary happened in the early hours of the morning.

Zondo said a laptop and a monitor were taken. He added that a bullet was found in one of the offices of the commission, after a shot was fired through the window at night, and that both instances were cause for concern.

According to a statement from the commission, the bullet was found in the library of the commission’s offices.

“If anybody is trying to intimidate the commission into not doing its job properly, they must know that the commission will not be intimidated,” Zondo said, before the commission began hearing testimony from the presiding officers of parliament.

Zondo stressed that the staff of the state capture inquiry were devoted to their work and would not be deterred.

“The men and women who keep this commission going every day; [who] dedicate a lot of extra hours with work in the evening, over weekends, Sundays, Saturdays, Mondays; who sacrifice to make sure we have evening sessions here, are very determined,” he said.

“Members of the legal team [and] members of the investigation team are very committed to ensure that the word of the commission is completed properly.

“I certainly will not be intimidated by anybody into not finishing my work the way it should be finished,” Zondo added.

The commission stressed in its statement that it “processes extremely important, confidential and often very sensitive data and information in [its] computers”. 

The commission said it could confirm that all data and information was backed up and “recoverable”, but that it would take steps to reinforce security at its offices.

Both the burglary and the shooting have been reported to the Hillbrow police.

The two incidents occurred as the commission increasingly faces allegations of bias from witnesses implicated in state capture, and as it awaits a Constitutional Court ruling on its application that it imprison former president Jacob Zuma for contempt.

Last month, a witness whose identity has been kept secret for his safety survived an alleged assassination attempt. The witness had testified last year that former Eskom and Transnet  chief executive Brain Molefe took cash from the Gupta family.

Days later, Zondo had to adjourn a sitting after Molefe’s former colleague, Anoj Singh, revealed the first name of another witness whose identity has been kept secret.

The commission has to finalise its report on the grand corruption that has devastated government departments and state-owned companies over the past decade by June 30.

This report has been updated with further information provided by the Zondo commission’s statement.