Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) commander-in-chief (CiC) Julius Malema said at noon today that his organisation wanted Terence Nombembe removed as the lead investigator in the state capture inquiry.
His comments come after deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo announced the key appointments to the commission yesterday.
“We object to the appointment of Terence Nombembe as the lead investigator for the commission,” Malema said.
He said as the chief executive officer at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), Nombembe failed to respond to the EFF’s questions about a R1.2-million donation made in 2017 to the institute by Trillian Capital, a Gupta-linked company.
“By the time SAICA received the donation, it was a common cause and public knowledge that Trillian Capital was used as a corruption vehicle by the Gupta criminal syndicate and had received more than R500 million from Eskom,” Malema said.
He added that last year it was in the public domain that directors at Trillian Capital, namely Eric Wood and Salim Essa, were involved in corrupt activities that led to the axeing of Nhlanhla Nene, who was replaced by Des van Rooyen as the finance minister.
He said when his party’s parliamentary caucus became aware of the donation from the Gupta-linked company to SAICA, a letter was written to Nombembe asking him to confirm and provide an explanation as to why the institute had accepted the donation.
“Instead of explaining why he received and accepted a donation from a criminal syndicate, the only thing Mr Nombembe did was respond with an email arranging for a telephone call conversation, perhaps in an attempt to try and bribe EFF parliamentary caucus,” Malema said.
He said Nombembe’s failure to provide an explanation about a donation from a company linked to the Guptas, who are implicated in state capture, disqualified him as the lead investigator.
The EFF leader said it raised eyebrows that Nombembe had refrained from providing the EFF with a written response.
He said the party would write a letter to Zondo requesting the deputy chief justice to recuse Nombembe from the commission, failing which the EFF would approach a court of law to have the commission’s lead investigator removed on the basis of a conflict of interest.
“The commission of inquiry into state capture must not be presided over or aided by people who have a conflict of interest. We therefore call on all those who have been appointed and know that they have conflictual relationships with potential witnesses to immediately recuse themselves from the process. South Africa deserves to know and take action against all hoodlums,” he said.
He labelled SAICA a captured entity, and said Zondo should have been aware of this before appointing Nombembe as the commission’s lead investigator.
“We as the EFF have the intention of calling Nombembe to the commission. How is Nombembe going to answer at the commission when he is the lead investigator?” Malema questioned.
The EFF also objected to the appointment of Advocate Paul Pretorius SC to the commission as the head of its legal team.
“While in principle, we celebrate the appointment of three black senior counsels, two of them being women, into the team of evidence leaders, we wish to register two strong objections about the composition of them. Firstly, we do not understand why deputy chief justice Zondo found it necessary to put these three capable black and women silks under white supervision by appointing a white SC above them,” Malema said.
He said Vincent Maleka SC had the capability to lead the legal team and that any other white advocate could have been included under Maleka’s leadership.
Malema said having a white advocate lead the legal team created the impression that “whiteness” still needed to supervise black South Africans.
He further questioned what it was that Maleka didn’t have that Pretorius had besides the fact that Pretorius was a senior, which, Malema said, was a result of his historical advantage as a white person.
Another appointment the EFF questioned was that of Thandi Norman SC, who Malema said was a “direct appointee and representative of Jacob Zuma in the judicial service commission”.
He questioned if Norman would be able to be neutral and carry out her duties accordingly in the commission, considering she was “handpicked” to the judicial service commission by former president Jacob Zuma, who is accused of masterminding state capture.