The long-awaited judicial committee of State interference investigation began Monday with its public activities.
Deputy Supreme Court Ray Zondo cut a stoic figure in front of the enormous conference room in Parktown, when the opening addresses were delivered and the legal teams placed themselves on record.
The committee has 19 months to complete the task of shining a light in the dark corners of state corruption networks.
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Not much action … until now
No witnesses were mentioned. The main part of the day consisted of the legal head of the investigation, lawyer Paul Pretorius, who framed the work of the committee and put it in the right legal context.
A lot of reading ahead
Commissioner Thandi Norman spent the afternoon reading an inventory of various source documents in history. This included the protectors of public order State of Capture report, as well as various research reports and audit reports.
Former President Jacob Zuma, Don Ajay Gupta, fixer Fana Hlongwane, Zuma loyalist and ex-chairman of the Lakela Kaunda chair and Gupta enabler Lynne Brown all have recruited serious legal muscle strength. Mike Hellens, Muzi Sikhakhane and Jaap Cilliers are not cheap, nor do they come as friends of the research.
Are there any surprises on the first day?
It is quite significant that the name of Kaunda has arisen. It seems that a statement has been submitted to the committee which implies that it arranges meetings with the prominent politicians for the Guptas. She was chief operating officer in the presidency under Zuma.
Isolate the research from criticism
Pretorius delivered a carefully structured opening statement on the basis of the constitution and relevant laws to put research into a constitutional legal framework. But he also broadened and explained the socio-economic impact of state interference on correcting the mistakes of the past. Put simply, Pretorius will show how the shadow state has undermined the democratic project.
Do not vote yet
We will finally hear what exactly happened when Zuma sacked Nhlanhla Nene as Minister of Finance on 9 December 2015, a casual Pravin Gordhan will describe the enormous attack on the national treasury under Zuma and Mcebisi. Jonas will fool a blow from the day that his boss's job was offered to him by Ajay Gupta. It will provide a compelling viewing experience.
The truth might make some people free
Pretorius confirmed that it was possible that if a witness would come up with self-incriminating evidence, but that helps to expose the imprisonment, the committee may recommend to impose a lesser penalty or the slightest sanctions on such a witness.
Everything except just sailing
Zondo regretted not only the lack of new witnesses or whistleblowers who approached the investigation, but also that it struggled to get the full cooperation of the government and the state. It has approached the Minister of Finance twice and the State Security Bureau has made efforts to secure security clearance for its investigators.
The investigation will resume on Tuesday at 9:00 am when the first witness, Willie Mathebula, will be called. He is the acting main explorer at Treasury and as such knows everything there is to know about how the government spent about 8 billion euros per year on goods and services. And he knows where a large number of bodies are buried.
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Hellens is a colorful personality and a member of the Johannesburg order of lawyers. He will be good to see and has an excited client to stay happy. He will probably also act on behalf of Duduzane Zuma. Pretorius is a classical lawyer who is able to construct an elegant and effective legal and ethical argument. He will not be blinded by his opponents. Zondo, however, will be the key figure. He has to keep his hand on the tiller and make sure things happen quickly.
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