The chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has denied former public enterprises ministers Lynne Brown the right to cross-examine witnesses at the commission.
Brown launched an application to cross-examine former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas.
This came after Jonas testified before the commission that one of the Gupta brothers had told him that Brown and former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe had worked closely with the Guptas, enjoying the family’s protection.
Zondo said Brown was free to put up an application at a later stage if she met the requirement of giving her version of events.
Zondo had repeatedly questioned Brown’s legal team to provide the former minister’s version opposed to Jonas’ testimony, which he said he had missed in Brown’s affidavit.
He said Brown’s version was a requirement for granting her leave to cross-examine Jonas.
“If that requirement is not there you are going to get serious problems of me granting the client to cross-examine,” Zondo said.
He suggested that Brown should appear before the commission to place her version of events on record first.
Brown’s legal representative admitted that nowhere in her affidavit did the former minister, in specific terms, deny the allegation made by Jonas.
Earlier this year, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released a damning report calling for action against Brown.
Mkhwebane found that Brown had misled parliament – apparently inadvertently – by maintaining that Trillian, a Gupta-linked consultancy firm, had not been granted Eskom contracts when it had, through a controversial relationship with international consultancy giant McKinsey, for which the latter apologised after expressing “embarrassment”.
Following Mkhwebane’s finding, Brown issued a statement blaming officials at the power utility, saying they deliberately misled her, and she merely passed on that incorrect information – but she immediately informed parliament’s ethics committee and the public protector of what had happened when she became aware she was lied to.
Zondo last week granted former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane the right to cross-examine Jonas.
Zondo further ruled that the Guptas may cross-examine witnesses, including Jonas, ex-MP Vytjie Mentor and fired government spin doctor Themba Maseko, but only if they return to South Africa.