Key appointments made in State capture commission

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo announces those at the helm of the commission. Image Credits: GCIS

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has announced the appointment of key personnel to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

The commission, which is chaired by Zondo, is tasked with investigating alleged corruption and fraud in the public sector, including organs of State. The six appointments include experienced investigators, lawyers and advocates.

The appointments include Dr Khotso De Wee, who is the current executive director of Fort Hare Solutions. He was the acting secretary general in the office of the Chief Justice. He has been appointed as the secretary of the State capture commission.

Former Auditor General Terence Nombembe has been appointed as the head of investigations. Nombembe is the CEO of the South African Institute of Charted Accountants.

While Zondo didn’t mention the investigators that Nombembe will lead for security reasons, he, however, assured that the team will be “multi-disciplined“ in order to cope with the type of investigation that is required by the commission.

“The team of investigators will have different skills… We are very conscious of the need for security. We are taking all reasonable steps to ensure that the issue of security is given priority,” Zondo said.

Other key appointments include Paul Joseph Pretorius, a member of the Singapore International Mediation of Advocates and panel member of the SA Law Commission Working Group on Mediation. Pretorius has been appointed as the head of the legal team. He will be supported by Isaac Vincent Maleka, who is a senior counsel and the Deputy Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee of Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors.

Other legal team members are Leah Gcabashe, who is the vice chairperson of the Johannesburg Society and Thandi Victoria Norman, who is currently the chairperson of The Advocates for Transformation in KwaZulu-Natal.

Justice Zondo, who expressed his confidence in the new team, said the appointments paves the way for the commission to start its work.

“The inquiry hearings will begin in the next few months but other investigations will take some time,” said Zondo, who confirmed that some of the work of the commission started work on 1 March.

The investigators will go out in the field in next two weeks, Zondo said.

The regulations for the inquiry were published in the Government Gazette on 9 February 2018. The regulations enable the chairperson of the commission to collect evidence and subpoena witnesses to testify before the commission and to present any documentary evidence relevant to the inquiry.

The publication of the regulation follows the earlier publication of the terms of reference of the commission under Government Gazette No. 41403 of 24 January 2018.

The inquiry will investigate allegations of State capture, corruption and fraud in the public sector, including organs of State.

In the terms of the reference, the commission must investigate whether, to what extent and by whom, attempts were made, through any form of inducement or for any gain whatsoever to influence members of the National Executive, including Deputy Ministers, office bearers and directors of the boards of SOEs.

How the commission will work

Justice Zondo reiterated that the commission does not have the power to prosecute. It will make recommendations, prepare a report and then submit it to the President.

“If it appears there has been evidence of criminal conduct, the commission will make recommendations that law enforcement agencies can consider prosecution.”

Asked how the commission will deal with potentially hostile witnesses, Zondo said the inquiry has the power to “deal with” them.

With regards to potential witnesses in Dubai or India, Justice Zondo said: “The legal team will look at that issue very closely because it is something that cannot escape our attention.”

Looking into the time frames for the commission to finish its work, Justice Zondo said there is “simply no way” that they will be able to complete its work in six months.  Initially the Public Protector recommend that the commission should complete its work within 180 days.

He’s raised this with President Cyril Ramaphosa and they are looking at ways to address this.

“The desired outcome is that at the end of this investigation by this commission and the submitting of the report to the President and the public, South Africans can understand the depths of this issue of State Capture,” Zondo said, adding that the investigation will be done thoroughly, objectively and professionally.

This article was originally published on SANews.gov.za

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