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Zondo to issue summons for Zuma to appear at state capture inquiry in November

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Zuma’s legal team was not at the hearing to argue against the application, but had filed a notice to oppose it

Former president Jacob Zuma. File picture: Felix Dlangamandla/Pool

FORMER president Jacob Zuma will be formally issued with a summons to appear before the Zondo commission in November following the commission’s legal team’s successful application to compel him to appear.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo issued the directive on Friday following arguments from the head of the legal team, advocate Paul Pretorius, who laid out a case for why Zuma had to be issued with a subpoena to appear and answer to damaging allegations made by 34 witnesses.

“Having read the affidavits placed before me and the counsel representing the legal team, I am satisfied that this is a matter in which I should grant the application and I am satisfied that a proper case has been made out. A summons should be issued for former president Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma to appear before the commission at 10am on November 16 to November 20, 2020,” Zondo said, while issuing the order.

Zuma will also be given the option to give evidence via video link if he wishes to do so.

“Should Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma make appropriate arrangements with the commission prior to the dates mentioned to give evidence via video link that will be deemed sufficient compliance with the summons,” Zondo said.

Zuma’s legal team was not at the hearing to argue against the application, but had filed a notice to oppose it.

In a letter, Zuma’s lawyers laid out several issues they had with the commission and the treatment of Zuma. They also requested that Zondo recuse himself from the matter.

There was also the issue of perception that they would be allowed to negotiate dates on when he should appear.

These arguments were largely dismissed by Zondo, who repeated that dates on when witnesses should appear were set out by him.

Witnesses had the right to file an application seeking to postpone appearances and the chairperson would make a ruling if he was convinced of the reasons given.

Pretorius read out the law governing the commission’s work which gives Zondo the powers equal to that of the high court to summon witnesses.

Zondo asked whether the excuse made by Zuma on why he would not appear in September, that he was preparing for his corruption trial, could be deemed as justified reasons.

Pretorius said that no dates were set out by Zuma on when his corruption trial would take place and the commission was pressed for time and had to conclude hearings by December.

Pretorius added that Zuma could not refuse to appear – his evidence was crucial to the work of the commission because of the allegations.

The state capture allegations happened during his term as head of state, Pretorius argued.

Zuma had yet to file responding affidavits to several statements that implicated him following his multiple failed promises to do so.

Zondo made it clear he had a legal duty to compile a report which had all sides of the story and was legally bound to ensure all avenues had been investigated.

“There can be no doubt that if on information available to me if I form a view that a particular person may have knowledge of matters that are relevant to what I am investigating, I must take steps to get that person to testify. If I do not do so I would be failing in my duty,” Zondo said.