Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has paid tribute to Frank Dutton, a chief investigator for the state capture inquiry he chaired, as one of the best detectives South Africa has seen.
Dutton died of a stroke on Thursday at the age of 72 after a career that saw him expose the excesses of the apartheid regime and investigate war crimes in Bosnia, Kosovo and Darfur.
“I was very saddened to hear of Mr Dutton’s passing on,” Zondo said.
“He was one of the best detectives and investigators that this country has produced. This country benefited immensely from his skill and dedication. Many other countries also benefited from his experience and skill.
“We are grateful to Mr Dutton for his commitment to the work of the commission. We shall miss him a great deal.”
Dutton joined the newly established Zondo commission as a senior investigator in 2018.
Zondo said he was one the first people he thought to recruit, because he knew his reputation and had encountered him when he was part of the Goldstone Commission of Inquiry Regarding the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation that investigated political violence in KwaZulu-Natal.
The state capture inquiry’s work was greatly enriched by his contribution, he added.
Dutton’s death is a blow for further investigations Zondo has recommended in the first part of his report, and will do so in the upcoming second and third instalments. Dutton last year joined the Investigating Directorate of the National Prosecuting Authority, which was set up to bring state capture cases to court.
Dutton was the director of the Scorpions elite investigating unit that was disbanded by former president Jacob Zuma’s administration. After he retired, Dutton worked on Truth and Reconciliation Cold cases, including those of Neil Aggett and Ahmed Timol.
He exposed the existence of the apartheid regime’s “third force” that fomented political violence and was awarded the Order of the Baobab in 2012.